Test the message! - Read the ahadith!

Back to the major dawah initiative of the moment at iERA (Islamic Education and Research Academy) : Don't shoot the messenger!Test the Message! Here's a typically rebarbative article in which the guys set out to protect the Prophet's reputation by telling us why it's impossible not to believe the ahadith (the actions and saying of Muhammad). It starts with a decidedly questionable statement:
The main contention against Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) prophet-hood is that the narratives concerning his life are not valid sources of knowledge.
Not at all, chaps... The main contention against Muhammad's prophet-hood is:
i.  the bizarrely repetitive, sometimes homophobic and misogynistic, and often plagiarised content of his message as found in the Qur'an and 
ii. those very narratives concerning his life and sayings you seem intent on having us believe
In other words, most of us are quite happy to accept, if you insist, that these narratives are genuine. We will even follow your expertise in distinguishing the genuine (sahih) narrations (or ahadith) from those with a less than perfect chain of narration, since so many of even the "genuine" (sahih) ahadith contain damning insights into Muhammad's strangely pagan-like beliefs and dubious character.

Never ones to under-sell their message, iERA then go on to list in excruciating detail why the ahadith are beyond doubt, and finish with the following (truly wonderful) claim:
In light of the above, to reject the narratives that elucidate on the life of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) would be tantamount to rejecting all known historical truths because the science of hadith is far more thorough than the methodologies used is western history.

OK! OK! - calm down, fellas! I'll read and believe in the authenticity of the ahadith, as you're so insistent. So let's have a look at some of them...

The following sahih hadith are taken from Islam Review and are solely from Sahih Al-Bukhari, regarded by Sunni Muslims (like the chaps at iERA) as the most reliable and authentic collection of ahadith. I'll just reiterate: these are the ahadith that iERA insist are as true (or truer) "than all known historical truths" and help to prove that Muhammad was God's prophet...

  1. WOMEN
  2. Women are deficient in mind and religion.

    • Mohammed asked some women, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half that of a man?" The women said, "yes," He said,"This is because of the deficiency of the woman's mind. " Vol. 3:826
    • Mohammed to women: "I have not seen any one more deficient in intelligence and religion than you*." Vol. 2:541
    The majority of people in hell are women.
    • Mohammed said, "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers are women. " Vol. 1:28, 301; Vol. 2:161; Vol. 7:124
    Women are a bad omen.
    • Mohammed said, " Bad omen is in the woman, the house and the horse." Vol. 7:30
    Women are harmful to men.
    • Mohammed said, "After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women." Vol. 7:33
    Women may not wear wigs.
    • Mohammed said, " Don't wear false hair for Allah sends His curse upon such ladies who lengthen their hair artificially." Vol. 7:133

  2. Mohammed's sexual strength is equal to 30 men.
    • Anas said, "The prophet used to visit all his wives in an hour round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number." I asked Anas, "Had the prophet the strength for it?"Anas replied, "We used to say that the prophet was given the strength of thirty (men). " Vol. 1:268
    Mohammed married a 9 year old girl.
    • "Narrated Aisha that the prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nineyears old."Vol. 7:64
    Allah hurries to please Mohammed's sexual desires.
    • When the Quranic verse that allows Mohammed to postpone the turn of any wife was revealed, and when Mohammed said that Allah allowed him to marry his adopted son's wife, Aisha (one of his wives) told him, "O Allah's Apostle I do not see but that your Lord hurries in pleasing you. " Vol. 7:48
    When a woman is divorced irrevocably, she cannot return to her husband until she marries (including having sexual intercourse) with another man.
    • "Narrated Aisha: The wife of Rifaa Al-Qurazi came to Allah's Apostle and said, 'O Allah's Apostle, Rifaa divorced me irrevocably. After him I married Abdur-Rahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi who proved to be impotent.' Allah's Apostle said to her, 'Perhaps you want to return to Rifaa? Nay (You cannot return to Rifaa) until you and Abdur-Rahman (the impotent man) engage in sexual intercourse!" Vol. 7:186  

  2. Islam is to be imposed by force.
    • Mohammed said, "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever says, " None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, his life and property will be saved by me." (otherwise it will not). Vol. 4:196
    Apostasy is punishable by death.
    • Mohammed said, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him." Vol. 9:57
    A Muslim must not be killed if he kills a non-Muslim.
    • Mohammed said, " No Muslim should be killed for killing a Kafir" (infidel). Vol. 9:50
    Ethnic cleansing is practiced.
    • Mohammed said to the Jews, "You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle (Mohammed) and I want to expel you from this land (The Arabian Peninsula), so, if anyone owns property, he is permitted to sell it." Vol. 4:392
    • Mohammed's last words at his deathbed were: "Turn the pagans (non-Muslims) out of the Arabian Peninsula." Vol. 5:716  

  2. No assurance of Salvation.
    • Mohammed said. "By Allah, though I am the apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me." Vol. 5:266
    God punishes a deceased if his relatives weep.
    • Mohammed said, "The deceased is punished because of the weeping of his relatives." Vol. 2:375
    When you speak badly about a deceased, the deceased will go to hell.
    • Mohammed said, "You praised this, so Paradise has been affirmed to him, and you spoke badly of this, so hell has been affirmed to him. You people are Allah's witnesses on earth." Vol. 2:448
    Urine on your clothes will bring punishment from God.
    • Mohammed said, "The deceased person is being tortured in the grave not for a great thing to avoid, it is for being soiled with his urine. " Vol. 2:460
    Holy war (Jihad) is a guarantee of heaven.
    • Mohammed said, "The person who participates in (Holy battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostle, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to paradise (if he is killed). " Vol. 1:35

  2. Drinking camel's urine will make you healthy.
    • "The prophet ordered them to follow his camels, and drink their milk and urine , so they followed the camels and drank their milk and urine till their bodies became healthy." Vol. 7:590
    Fever is from the heat of hell.
    • Mohammed said, " Fever is from the heat of hell, so put it out (cool it) with water." Vol. 7:619
    A fly in your drink is a cure.
    • Mohammed said, "If a housefly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it (in the drink), for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease. " Vol. 4:537
    How the baby's looks are determined.
    • Mohammed said, "As for the child, if the man's discharge precedes the woman's discharge, the child attracts the similarity of the man, and if the woman's discharge precedes the man's, then the child attracts the similarity of the woman." Vol. 5:275

  2. If you eat garlic don't come to the place of worship.
    • Mohammed said, "Whosoever ate from this plant (i.e. garlic) should not enter the mosque." Vol. 1:812
    Effect of evil eye
    • Mohammed said, "The effect of an evil eye is a fact. " Vol. 7:636
    Which shoe you should put on first.
    • Mohammed said, "If you want to put on your shoes, put on the right shoe first, and if you want them off, take the left one first."Vol. 7:747
    Breathing in your drink is bad.
    • Mohammed said, "Don't breath into your drinking utensil."Vol. 1:156
    God frightens his devotees with eclips.
    • Mohammed said, "The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah and they do not eclipse because of the death of someone but Allah frightens His devotees with them. " Vol. 2:158

    Satan urinates in people's ears, when they don't wake up for prayer.
    • Narrated Abdullah: the prophet was told that a person had kept on sleeping till morning and had not got up for the prayer. The prophet said, "Satan urinated in his ears." Vol. 2:245

    Yawning is from Satan.
    • The prophet said, "Yawning is from Satan and if anyone of you yawns, he should check his yawning as much as possible, for if anyone of yuo (during the act of yawning) should say: "Ha", Satan will laugh at him." Vol. 2:158

    Stars are missiles which God uses to hit the devils.
    • The creation of stars is for three purposes, i.e., as decoration of the sky, as missiles to hit the devils, and as signs to guide travelers. Vol. 2:15

 Let's not forget, lest we are tempted to regard these sayings and actions as a bizarre but ultimately unreliable and therefore unimportant part of Islam, that if we do, then according to iERA,
all other established historical narratives must be rejected, including World War One, the battle of Hastings and the Norman invasion of Britain! 
So let me get this clear. If we DON'T believe that Muhammad had sex with a nine year-old, or told his followers to kill apostates, or thought that a fly's wing was a curative or that women have deficient minds.... then we might as well deny WWI happened?

Goodness - I truly love you guys at iERA sometimes!

*for an Islamic explanation this "most misquoted and misunderstood hadith" (the one where Muhammad says women are deficient in intellect etc) please click here. No really, PLEASE do.

Scientism and obscurantism at iERA...

Take a trawl through the innumerable Islamic websites proclaiming the miraculous nature of the Qur'an and one soon encounters a depressing refrain: science is to be relied upon only when it is confirmed by the Qur'an (or, at the very least, when it doesn't contradict it).
Apart from the ludicrous claims of preternatural  knowledge of embryology, isostasy, cosmology etc. in the Qur'an, this also leads followers to deny such universally accepted (in the scientific community) theories such as evolution, since however hard the miracle seekers try to twist the original Arabic and search the tafsirs they cannot but accept that Allah has plainly stated that all species were created at once and that man can trace his origins back to two individuals, Adam and Eve, created by Him.
Hence science that plainly contradicts the Qur'an (and thus God) must be denied. Denial, however, is not enough. Such blasphemous beliefs must be denigrated and belittled lest any curious Muslim be tempted to reflect upon the overwhelming evidence for science that contradicts the Revelation and reach his or her own conclusions, namely: Allah wasn't much of a scientist.
Christianity, of course, has been here before. But the West had the Enlightenment and religion has retreated in the light of advancing knowledge ever since. Islam, however, is still fighting to maintain its grip on its followers' hearts and minds, and the deniers of evolution - such as those neanderthals at iERA - will go to any despicable lengths to hide knowledge from those who are the targets of their dawah.
Take the use of the term "scientism". Miracle seekers use it relentlessly when what they actually mean is ...well, science.
Here's our favourite miracle seeker, Hamza Tzortzis of the Islamic Education and Research Association writing about Richard Dawkins in his paper, A response to the God Delusion 
The statement presumes scientism to be the only way of establishing facts. 
In case you're wondering (and my spell check certainly is...), scientism sees science as "the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth". It's used exclusively in a pejorative sense. And yet the irony is that the miracle seekers love quoting (cod)science when they think it'll confuse the bejesus out of their gullible readers. 
Here's Hamza again, explaining why evolution is "impossible" (well, it's true we have our doubts with you, Hamza, ol' son) by quoting from Barrow and Tipler's book, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle..

Evolution is impossible because we have not had enough time on Earth yetAccording to John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, the odds of assembling a single gene are between and 4-180 to 4-360. The implications of this are that there simply has not been enough time since the formation of the earth to try a number of nucleotide base combinations that can even remotely compare to these numbers!

I wonder if Hamza would be happy to quote the figures if he knew he was using "science" from an author infamous for writing a study on the mechanism for raising the dead (The Omega Point).
George Ellis, writing in the journal Nature, described Tipler's book on the Omega Point as "a masterpiece of pseudoscience ... the product of a fertile and creative imagination unhampered by the normal constraints of scientific and philosophical discipline",and Michael Shermer devoted a chapter of Why People Believe Weird Things to enumerating what he thought to be flaws in Tipler's thesis. Best of all, Physicist Sean M. Carroll thought Tipler a "crackpot". I suppose it won't surprise you to learn either that Tipler was a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, a society which advocated, wait for it... intelligent design.

So here's another -ism for you Hamza: obscurantism - which we might summarise as attempting to blind your readers with the dubious science of creationist crackpots while attacking the real science of world-renowned scientists.

iERA and Gods existance (sic)

Gods Existance

It pains me to put such illiterate nonsense in my blog title but sometimes aesthetic concerns must bow to the greater need to expose the cretins at the Islamic EDUCATION and Research Association (a registered charity, for f*ck's sake) for what they are. Today they deserve to be pilloried not just for their moronic attempts at philosophy and logic but for their evident ignorance of basic grammar and spelling.

The offending title appears in the "advanced dawah" section of their website. This is presumably where those who have progressed beyond basic bollocks go to learn specialist techniques for spouting cutting-edge, innovative, jaw-dropping bollocks. 

The first subheading under their nonsensical title is "The Dawkins delusion - a response to Richard Dawkins". I bet the professor is quaking in his atheist boots...

(Unfortunately, the link appears not to work. If anyone can track down iERA's no doubt searing endictment of the professor's work on evolutionary biology I'd love to hear from you...)

There is no Benghazi Gate, Libya is an Obama strength

Tonight's Presidential debate is on foreign policy. By all accounts the most important issue to be discussed, in terms of how it will effect the election is the so called "Benghazi Gate". Now, readers of Gubu World will know that I have been relatively neutral in this election although I have leaned toward Romney somewhat because of the debt issue. However all I can do is call things as I see them. That is why I want to do a post on the so called Benghazi controversy and why I believe it is one of the most contrived political controversies I have ever come across. Before I go further I want to stress that the reasons I am about to cite are based entirely on my own observations and instincts. I have not copied or expanded them from any other source. So let me begin.

1. Ambassador Stevens was not killed by gunfire or in an explosion. The cause of death was smoke inhalation. When I heard this the morning after his death I assumed that the building had been attacked in a violent demonstration, that it caught fire and that the ambassador was trapped. When one hears of any crime that has been committed one tends to piece together in their head what the motives and methods were. Sometimes it is clear, other times it takes a few days. In my view the mere fact that the ambassador died from smoke inhalation sufficiently explains why it took a couple of days for the administration to be clear that it was in fact an organised terrorist attack. The fact that it coincided with simultaneous protests in several other Muslim countries further muddied the waters. I do not believe there was anything sinister it the disjointed response from the administration. I do think Romney's attempt to associate the apology that came from the US Embassy in Cairo as being an Obama apology that came after the ambassadors death was in bad taste.

2. The impression I got from Ambassador Stevens was that he was not a conventional diplomat. He sneaked into Libya during the revolution and was tasked with liaising with rebels and assisting in the post Gadaffi transition to democracy. He seemed to be a fairly hands on type a guy who wanted to move freely through out Libya. I can't prove this but I would guess that he did not want to travel around Libya in a massive motorcade, nor did he want the US embassy to look like a fortress. I suspect it was part of an image he wanted to portray of America as an ally of Libya. This is my explanation for why the consulate in Benghazi looked more like a holiday villa. Of course if he requested more security he should have got it but that cannot be seriously blamed on the President.

3. The narrative from the Romney campaign is that Obama constantly blamed the attack on a youtube video because in his heart he rejects the idea of unprovoked terrorism. He is sceptical of American power and believes the US on some level brings terrorism on itself, just as the classic leftist believes. I believe that this is a fantasy. Obama did not blame the attack on the youtube video. What he did say from day one was that the attackers used the video as an excuse. This is absolutely accurate. The Republicans are claiming that the attack was entirely unconnected to the movie controversy. This is not the case. While I don't for a second deny that the fanatic terrorists who murdered the four Americans were motivated by Al Queada style anti western hatred, and that they would have committed terrorism against the US anyway, they nevertheless clearly did choose to attack at the time of the controversy in the hope that it would inspire others to sympathise with them.

4. The most important point regarding Libya is as follows. In my view Obamas wider Libya policy has been a great success. It may in fact turn out to be a spectacular success if the democratic experiment in Libya permanently succeeds. All week I have been hearing how Benghazi is a major weakness for Obama. I suspect tonight he will try to illustrate it as a strength. American military action ended the 42 year rule of Col Gadaffi. Some Republicans who still haven't realised that there is no such thing as a stable mad man, argued that they should have left Gadaffi in power because he had started to play ball on the war on terror. Taking Gadaffi down was a risk and Libya is far from stable but the electorate have chosen a moderate government and in the wake of the Benghazi attack we saw the most notable pro American demonstration to occur in an Arab country since Desert Storm. Obamas risk has paid off. The death of four Americans does not invalidate his wider action on Libya. America lost 5000 people trying to bring democracy to Iraq, in Libya they have lost four. How this is continueing to be such a negative for the President surprises me greatly. I suspect tonight that he will try to turn that disadvantage into an advantage.

Islam, Creation and the Total Perspective Vortex

The universe within one billion light years (thanks to atlasoftheuniverse.com)
The most horrifying form of torture/punishment in the known Universe, The Total Perspective Vortex (it's so mind bogglingly terrifying it even gets Capital Letters) is a small, featureless steel box, barely big enough for one man to stand in. 

The hopeless victims stand in the Vortex, and are suddenly shown, for the merest instant, the whole of the Universe: the whole infinity of creation, spanning over several trillion light years, and countless millennia, with an insignificant dot saying "You Are Here". 

The victims, totally demoralised by their experience, fall dead from the vortex, wherupon they become the burden of the Vortex' custodian, Pizpot Gargravarr. 

To date, Zaphod Beeeblebrox (former President of the Galaxy, and "The best bang since the Big one") is the only man to have survived the vortex, solely because he is a hoopy frood and the Vortex told him as much.

 from Urban dictionary and ultimately the blessed Douglas Adams
There are probably more than 100 billion  (1011) galaxies in the observable universe. Each galaxy has on average between 100 billion and one trillion stars. 
Put another way, if we were to represent galaxies as frozen peas (in other words I'm asking you to imagine a frozen pea containing between 100 billion and a trillion stars) then the known universe contains enough peas to fill the Albert Hall.
Such numbers are almost impossible for us to comprehend. And for most of human history, of course, we haven't had to. The great mysteries of the cosmos have been just that - mysteries. Man has made up wonderful stories to put a human scale to the incomprehensible: whether it be a the world carried on the shell of a giant turtle or on the back of Atlas or the stars seen as lamps in a series of "heavens".
But now that we are beginning to fathom the truly mind-numbing immensity of the universe we are left with some awkward questions.
Such as why did God create at the very least 6 sextillion planets? Couldn't that be seen as just the tiniest bit wasteful?  Why would God need so many galaxies containing so many solar systems containing so many planets if all he needed to create life was to say "BE!"?
We are told that the creation of life is an incredibly unlikely event....so unlikely that only God could be responsible. And yet what is now finally being revealed to us is a universe that has been mixing chemicals on sextillions of planets for billions of years. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE WOULD EXPECT TO SEE IF LIFE HAD TO EMERGE BY CHANCE BECAUSE THERE IS NO GOD.
For why would God need so many failed experiments?
Where in the Bible or the Qur'an is there the slightest hint that God needed so much time and so much space to finally crack this creation business?

Last word to DA:

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space. Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Worldwide Caliphate - How Muslims view the Arab Spring?

"The West attempted to paint the uprisings as being secular and democratic in nature. Such rhetoric could not be maintained, however, since it was becoming increasingly clear that the call on the Arab street was for nothing other than Islam. (Pictures of crowds chanting in Arabic subtitled "The ummah desires the Islamic caliphate") What happened was that somehow or someway the call for an Islamic caliphate had to be satisfied..." [...]        "We're really living under the Islamic system now...there's no more democracy, no more secularism" [...]There was no question about it. The world was witnessing the end of western civilsation and the rise of a new era under the Islamic caliphate

When I first saw this "fictional futuristic depiction of the return of the caliphate" on YouTube I assumed it had been made by those worried about the spread of that extreme but minority form of Islam that hopes for and demands a world-wide caliphate under which every person in the world, whether they want it or not, would be subject to sharia law. Freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of speech should be sacrificed to Allah, such people believe.
My Muslim convert friend believes such a world would be desirable and that "democracy plays no part in Islam".
However, this film was in fact made by  Hizb ut-Tahrir, Australia.  I reproduce below the video description:
 Hizb ut-Tahrir, Australia will convene its major annual conference to address these uprisings, what the potential results are, the method for true Islamic change and the false ideas and approaches that will lead only to failure. Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia invites you to join us in not only looking at the Muslims world of today, but in casting our eyes forward and looking towards the Muslim world of tomorrow under the shade of Islam insha Allah.Where: The Bellevue Reception Centre | Restwell St, Bankstown When: Sunday, 16 September 2012 | 10:00am -- 3:00pm

An interesting and chilling insight into the minds of those who strive for and would delight in seeing a world where sharia rules with its medieval punishments for theft, homosexuality, adultery and sedition...such as 5.33 which demands crucifixion and amputation of alternate hands and feet for those who wish "to spread corruption in the land".

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Pakistan Newspaper article blames Islamic ideology for Malala incident

Writing in the Pakistan daily paper, Pakistan Today, Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, the Business Editor, denounces the religious ideology that spawned the appalling extremists capable of shooting a young girl because she dared to voice her opinion that freedom of conscience was important. 

I will add nothing more other than to urge you to read and digest....

Don't blame the Taliban ...Let’s call a spade a spade instead

The Malala incident is déjà vu times million. You have religious ‘extremists’ manifesting brutality; the ‘educated’ class calls the act heinous, the ‘intellectuals’ label the offenders as beasts, the ‘liberals’ protest against the ‘cowardly act’ and while everyone is condemning the act, they remain shushed about the root cause of it all: the ideology. Throughout the past every single person who has denounced the Taliban has acted as an apologetic, justifying the religious ideology and claiming how those ‘uneducated morons’ have ‘unfortunately’ misinterpreted the teachings of peace and tranquility – no, they haven’t, ‘unfortunately’.
It is so painfully amusing to note how the ‘moderates’ and armchair revolutionaries, would sit there with a glass of vine in their hands, uninhibitedly hanging out with the opposite sex, not having offered a prayer or fasted for ages, claiming how the Taliban – who lead their lives strictly according to the Shariah – are infesting their religion of harmony. The poor chaps are only doing what their scriptures – the ones that the pseudo intellectuals extol, or don’t have the cojones to criticize – tell them to do. When you are being taught, through the scriptures that are universally recognized by the followers as ‘authentic’, that all the non-believers or threats to the grandeur of your ideology should be killed, you will kill them, where is the misinterpretation here?
Finding slaves or slave girls, repulsive; physically assaulting women, disgusting; cutting off hands for theft, inhuman; stoning people to death, beastly and then venerating the ideology that permits this at the same time is hypocrisy of the very highest order. You sit there, criticize and mock the Taliban that follow your religion in its true form while you live in oblivion with your extremely palatable, but simultaneously blatantly fallacious, brand of religion and then claim that the Taliban are misinterpreting and misapprehending your ideology? Oh, the irony.
Let’s stop carving out quasi religions, or defending ideologies that we’ve all grown up blindly following as the truth. Let’s call a spade a spade instead and realize that at the end of the day as much as you might have a cardiac arrest admitting it, the root cause of religious extremism is: religion – especially in its raw crude form, which again is the only ‘authentic’ form.
Every single religion has a violent streak. Every single one of them orders violence and killing in one form or the other for the ‘non-believers’. One can quote verses from every holy scripture depicting loathe and despise for anyone who doesn’t believe in the said scripture and its propagator. Sure, those scriptures would have the occasional fit of peace as well, but that only springs into the open when it is recognized as the only supreme authority. Every religion is a ‘religion of peace’ as long as it formulates the status quo; there is no concept of ideological symbiosis in any religion. When a tyrannical regime or dictator calls for peace with the condition that they would reign supreme we label them as oppressors, but when this is done in the name of religion we tout it as maneuvers of ‘harmony’.
The Taliban have defended the attack on Malala Yousafzai through scriptures and historic precedents. You can clamor all you want about how there is a lack of understanding on the part of the Taliban, but how on earth can you refute clear messages of violence and historical evidence – scribed by historians of your faith – depicting brutality on the part of some of the most illustrious people in the history of the religion? It is easy to launch vitriol against the Taliban for attacking a 14-year-old girl, but it is also equally hypocritical and pathetic when you eulogize people from your history who did the same in the past, who massacred masses, destroyed lands, pulverized places of worship, raped women, just because they ostensibly did it in the name of your religion. Don’t blame the Taliban for following their lead, don’t blame the Taliban for using violence as a means to cement religious superiority – something that has been done for centuries – don’t blame the Taliban for the fact that you don’t have the guts to call a spade a spade even though it has been spanking your backside for centuries now.
The fact that groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi exist is because Islam is still traversing its Dark Ages while other religions have gone through Reformation, resulting in a collective Renaissance – and that too half a millennium ago. None of the religion in its crude form can work in this day and age, and instead of taking the easy route and scorning at those that follow religious teachings in its original form, the more logical approach would be to accept the truth.
If you’re acknowledging Islam as the supreme authority, you have no grounds for hauling coals over Zia-ul-Haq for implementing laws from the Shariah, you have no grounds for attacking Mumtaz Qadri or feeling sorry for Salmaan Taseer who clearly spoke against the blasphemy law, you have no grounds for lauding Dr Abdul Salaam as a national asset who belonged to a sect that clearly defies Islamic teachings, and yes, you have no grounds for blaming the Taliban.
It’s time our ‘thinkers’ stopped taking the easy way out and finally picked a side. You either follow a religion in its true form or you’re irreligious. The Taliban know which side they are on. Do you?

EU Deserves It

The European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement yesterday has and will continue to lead to ridicule among critics of the EU and of the prize itself. Here is my view. I agree that the EU has been the greatest peace making institution in all of human history and is therefore a worthy recipient of the prize. I believe this for the following reasons. 70 years ago the European Continent was engulfed in a rampage of savagery and butchery that led to the deaths of over 35 million people. 40 years ago the European continent was still rife with dictatorship, communist in the East and military in the South. 20 years ago the European continent was faced with with brutal war in the Balkans, and the emergence of many newly independent nations in Eastern and Central Europe from the former communist block and the USSR itself. Today there are 45 countries on the European continent, all but one or two of which are solid democracies. For this spectacular transition from war and dictatorship to peace and democracy the EU deserves much of the credit.

Of course the EU does not deserve all of the credit. Many Eastern dissidents and their American supporters deserve great credit for the fall of communism as does the Catholic Church. But I have been surprised how for many this has turned into a NATO versus the EU debate. After all, most members of NATO are also in the EU. NATO undeniably was the main factor in wrestling the Soviet Union to the ground. But had it not been for the lure of democracy and prosperity that the EU provided many of the newly independent Eastern nations would have fallen under the influence of hard men of various political persuasions. And that lure was real and tangible. To be eligible for EU membership one had to satisfy the key economic indicators that makes up a modern economy. One had to have an independent judiciary, a military that was under civilian control, free elections, free media, workers rights and investors rights. The criteria to join was high. And as a result, after independence the national debates in Poland, Hungry, Checkislovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lituantia and Estonia became about satisfying those criteria. The same is true in Southern Europe after the fall of military regimes in Spain, Portugal and Greece. And perhaps most impressive of all is how those same debates are now taking place internally in Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia having already been granted membership. It is in the Balkans that we really see the EU's peace making in practical action.

Humans as we know are tribal. It is an unfortunate human characteristic but we tend to fight with our neighbours that our different. We have seen it in every corner or Europe over the centuries. We have even seen it in my own country. Most recently we saw it in the Balkans during the 1990's as the Serb, Croat and Bosnian went to war with each other with devastating consequences. While it took the muscle of American led NATO to stop the violence, it was the lure of EU membership that won the peace. But more than that, It was the EU concept of free trade and open borders within members that has led to a gradual erosion of hatred. Think about it, the Serbs are bitter because they lost territory in the war and that many of their towns and villages now lie inside Bosnia and Kosovo. This naturally serves as a nationalist rallying cry for the Serbs who want to come to the aid of their besieged brothers. The practical every day manifestation of this tension is the border. If the Serb living inside Kosovo wants to visit his relatives who live 20 miles away inside Serbia he has to jump through hoops to get there and back. Crucially however, with full EU membership comes free trade within the union. With this comes the erosion and eventually the removal of internal borders. And with the removal of the borders begins the gradual process of removing the reason for the nationalist rallying cry. Trade with each other, don't kill each other, that's the EU message. Not surprisingly the message of trade, get rich and live is much more powerful than fight, be poor and die. Of course old hatreds don't die easily, but with robust policing, a strong independent judiciary and a universal increase in living standard, the prospect of the three principal antagonists of the Balkan war living in peace, prosperity and harmony is very real. Could any other institution have achieved this?

The elephant in the room here is naturally the financial crisis. The Euro is struggling and may even collapse. The wide spread prosperity which is supposed to be central to the European project is looking dubious. But am I supposed to believe that if there was no EU there would be no debt, and no financial crisis. It is after all a global problem. I don't want to come across as an apologist for the EU. I don't like everything about the EU, particularly the EU commission and I am gradually coming to the conclusion that the Euro itself was a mistake at best, a sinister attempt to bully European nations into coming under the control of Brussels at worst. But I don't for a second think that its current financial problems invalidate its aforementioned success. And frankly, I think that any problem that I, or the Libertarian or the Socialist has with the European Union pale in significance in comparison with the success of a peaceful and democratic Europe. I sometimes get confused with right wing Americans and there views on the EU. It's like they had more respect for us when we were butchering each other. And that is the key to why I hold these views on this area. Readers of Gubu World will know that I am a World War Two enthusiast. I have read dozens of books on the conflict. But I have never fallen into the trap of thinking that it was a glorious, noble or even exciting time. It was in fact the worst thing that ever happened the human race. When I read about Normandy, Crete, Lenningrad, Malta, Anzio, the Bulge, Dunkirk, Barborossa, Arnem, Stallingrad, kursk, Berlin I am always left with a sick feeling in my stumoch that this is how it was in Europe at the time that my parents were infants. Some people don't get that. The American experience of war is totally different. The American people haven't actually experienced one since the 1860's. Putting on a uniform and travelling thousands of miles overseas is very different than seeing your home, your town, village, city and country become totally consumed by burning and killing. Hopefully in Europe that will never happen again. If the EU stays strong and democratic, I believe it never will.

"a surah like it" - a vain and foolish challenge

And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. 2:23
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

If anything proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the Qur'an is the product of a vain human, then this foolish and meaningless challenge, beloved of a certain type of Muslim, does.

Can anyone produce a play like King Lear or a poem like The Wasteland or a novel like Ulysses (actually, would anyone want to write a novel like Ulysses?)? Or for that matter a van Gogh painting or a Rodin statue or a Mozart opera?  Of course not! And what does that prove exactly? Nothing more than, at its best, the product of human creativity is inimitable. 

Can anyone make a pizza exactly like my wife? No. Is she therefore a divinely inspired pizza dough chef. Well she's good but , hell - it's asking an awful lot of a Margherita.
But let's imagine, for just one moment, that Mrs Spinoza's claim to divinity was reliant upon such a judgement. Let's further imagine that, as an understandable fan of Mrs. S and her pizzas,  I had decided I was to be the sole judge of any pizza challenger.
"Whoa! Hold on just a moment!" I hear you say. "What about objectivity? What about a fair and level playing field? Aren't you just a little bit biased"

And yet this is nothing more than what the miracle seekers are asking us to accept. "No-one has been able to meet the challenge in fourteen centuries!" they confidently announce.
"And, er, who has judged the challengers?" 
"Well, my friend, Muslims of course!" 

 al-Kawthar (reproduced below) which tells Muhammad to pray and sacrifice animals and that if he does so his enemies will be made destitute is the shortest surah. Is it really inimitable? :
1. Indeed, We have granted you, [O Muhammad], al-Kawthar.
2. So pray to your Lord and sacrifice to Him Alone [i.e. by way of slaughter of animal livestock].
3. Indeed, your enemy will be cut-off (from future hope). 
1. Inna a'taynaka al-kawthar
2. Fa-salli li-Rabbika wanhar
3. Inna shaani-aka huwal abtar 
I was going to have a go at the challenge but for the reasons above and the fact the Muhammad was in the habit of assassinating poets, I'll resist.

The challenge to write a surah like one in the Qur'an is ultimately futile. An omniscient creator would surely not make such an empty gesture.       

Honours Even

I like this photo of President Obama watching the Vice presidential debate from Air force One. I suppose the debate was a draw. I could give my personal views but they are largely irrelevant because whether or not you liked Joe Biden's smile or found it inappropriate is entirely a matter of opinion. Likewise some found Paul Ryan's tame manner to be a sign of weakness, others found it Presidential. Again, it's entirely subjective. Biden probably succeeded in halting Obamas slide in the polls and what looked like a sea change may now just be a significant bounce. That is the most important aspect of last nights debate. The next Obama V Romney debate is massive.

Would it be worth it ??

I haven't decided yet whether I'm waiting up tonight to watch the Vice Presidential debate. I would like to because I missed most of Obamas disasterous performance last week and still haven't managed to post on the consequences of it. But I have had a hard week which included some exams, a two day wedding bash and a flu. Right now, I feel like the baby in this video. I doubt I can last another four hours. The only point I want to make now is that Joe Biden must do something tonight to change the narrative away from Obamas bad performance last week. One week later and it is still the main Presidential news story. Obama/Biden desperately need it to be something else tomorrow morning.

The Rumble

I watched this on youtube today before they took it down. It's over an hour and there is a good bit of sillyness in it particularly in first ten minutes but it's worth a look all the same. It's a solid debate between two men I respect. You can still see it on the link below if you're willing to pay a fiver. Anyway my hectic wedding season is over as are my exams so you can expect full time blogging between now and the presidential election.

Reasoning the non-existence of God - a challenge to iERA

Here's our favourite philosopher-guru cum logic-chopper, Abdur Raheem Green of the iERA, telling us to use our common sense and logic (stop sniggering at the back there!) to reach the unavoidable conclusion that God exists.

 For Muslims, he says, faith is not mysterious, but rational and based upon evidence. He continues, appealing to our rationality and logic:
"Our universal human experience tells us that where we see order, something working according to patterns, then something or someone has ordered it."

I have a question (in fact I have many, but let's stick to the ones which leap up and shout, "Hey - ask the patronising idiot this one!")
Who ordered the pattern below, Abdur? According to your "common sense", the regular patterns we see here are either a mirage (they don't really exist) or the product of a conscious "creator wind".

Or how about this? Did a conscious "creator volcano" produce the basalt outcrops that form the famous Giants' Causeway in County Antrim on the North East coast of Northern Ireland? Or perhaps you believe the legend that tells of an Irish warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), who built the causeway? Because according to your rational islam, when we see patterns "we know someone ordered it."
I can understand how uneducated, superstitious men might have wondered about such things and made up stories to explain the seemingly inexplicable. But how can someone with the benefit of a modern education still labour under such misapprehensions? How can the clowns at iERA receive the benefits of charitable status when their "education" is of such a level?

And it's not just static patterns that defy Abdur's and the miracle seekers' faulty reasoning. Here's an example from a famous set of  experiments called "The Game of Life" used by scientists to show how complex patterns can emerge from the unlikeliest of sources: in this case a basic set of rules along the lines of if an adjacent cell is empty move, if three cells surrounding an empty cell are "live", that cell comes to life etc etc. Press play to see how a totally unpredictable but regular and ordered pattern emerges.

Gary Lineker and "grass eating" Muslims

Gary Lineker must crawl over broken bottles to Mecca for the huge offence he has cause world-wide Muslim football audience by not realising the goal celebration by two Muslim players was a prayer.
It's not as though there have ever been weird celebrations to cloud the issue. Lineker should have known immediately what was going on. As Muslim blogger London Muslim says, Lineker is obviously a racist.

Egypt - MB's Islamic Utopia

I am told by my Muslim convert friend that Islam provides everything a state needs to establish  fair governance and an equitable distribution of resources. The laws and advice contained in the Qur'an and ahadith, if strictly adhered to, will inevitably and inexorably lead to the best society of which humans are capable.

However, ask any Muslim why the world's current Islamic states appear to be much less desirable places to live than their liberal, secular, democratic counterparts and you will usually get one of two answers which can be summarised as follows:
i. The West's interference in Muslim lands has made it impossible for nascent Islamic nations to find a secure place in the world. Imperialist realpolitik has meant support for regimes that terrorise their own populations whilst supporting Western interests; and Western interests are almost always diametrically opposed to Islamist interests. Thus supposedly Islamic nations have been such in name only: Libya and Egypt being two obvious examples
ii. Even in those countries where one cannot claim Western interference, there isn't a truly Islamic theocracy; ask a Western Muslim what he or she thinks of Saudi, for example, and you'll get the picture...

Any liberal with a conscience will have sympathy with the first argument, and this goes some way to explain the left's knee-jerk support of Islamist demands, even when they seem to fly in the face of the liberal shibboleths of free speech and gay rights (to name but two...). And one would be hard pressed to argue with the second argument.

But what we are seeing in Egypt and elsewhere now, promises to give Muslims a chance to see their Islamic utopia  become a reality. 

For an experiment is taking place which might just give Islam its first chance since the so-called "Golden Age" to show what it's capable of.  "The whole point of Egypt's revolution for the Muslim Brotherhood is to usher in the utopia that the full application of sharia would ostensibly bring" as The Economist magazine has it this week, and if the Muslim Brotherhood can succeed in creating a constitution wholly reliant upon sharia then we shall be able to judge Islam

This is, however, a two edged sword. There can be no more excuses. And so we watch the debates rage:

Al-Azhar University, a revered 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Muslim teaching in Cairo, has come out strongly against any change [to the wording of the current constitution]. “The ‘principles’ of Islamic sharia is an inclusive term that reflects the consensus of Muslim clerics,” says one of the university’s scholars on the constitution-drafting body. “Scholars differ over the text for ‘rules of Islamic sharia’because these change all the time, while the constitution should express fixed principles.”Al-Azhar (pictured above) has even blocked a push by Salafists, a puritan strand of Islam that won a quarter of votes in last year’s parliamentary elections, to enshrine al-Azhar itself as the sole authority for interpreting sharia.[...] Historians, meanwhile, note that in past ages, as well as in countries such as Saudi Arabia today, the relatively thin body of accepted sharia laws has in practice needed bolstering by secular rules.

Hang on - what's this? Sharia needs bolstering by secular rules? But I thought Islam was a complete and perfect set of instructions for a society? Isn't the whole point of Islam that there is no division between religion and state?

So once again, are we to be denied the chance to see a truly Islamic society flowering? Will what many regard as Egypt's inevitable failure be blamed,not upon the barbaric and outmoded laws and rules that the Qur'an dictates, but upon the exigencies of secular administration?

Whatever happens, it's going to be an interesting experiment. Watch this space...

New number miracles discovered in Qur'an

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have wonderful news. After intense study for many long periods of time I have discovered the following number miracles in the Qur'an, even more amazing and awe-inspiring than those already identified.
Let me start by giving you some of the astonishing miracles already discovered in case these have passed you by (these are readily available all over the internet and in all good book shops, but for reference and so you can check I'll link to the book, Astonishing Facts about the Quran available now as an ebook and to the site Miracles of the Qur'an ) and after each amazing number miracle I will reveal what I have discovered. (Please do check my maths on any Qur'an search engine). If any Muslim is offended at what I have discovered, please remember that it was the Muslim miracle seekers who started this whole business in the first place...
the word "Muhammad" appears 4 times in the Holy Qur'an ..the word "Sharia" appears 4 times!" ... as do the words SEX, PAIN,  LIE and MURDER. 
the words "wine" (khamr) and "intoxication" (saqara) are repeated in the Qur'an the same number of times: 6 ...do I need to add anything here? Seems to me Allah is doing our job for us...
day (yawm / يوم) (should that be yawn?) appears 365 times er...no it doesn't. And anyway, there are so many variants you can come up with any figure between 222 & 476! 
The number of repetitions of the words "plant" and "tree" is the same: 26 OMG - I'm a believer! "Breast" is mentioned twice as many times (6) as "naked" (3) and women have two breasts and we all like...(er, that's enough -ed) 
The word "payment or reward" is repeated 117 times, while the expression "forgiveness" (mughfirah), which is one of the basic morals of the Qur'an, is repeated exactly twice that amount, 234 times. Well, I'll be damned! "Muhammad" (4) used to "steal" (3) "slaves" (12) on his raiding parties (4x3=12!!)
The word "satan" (shaitan) is used in the Qur'an 88 times, as is the word "angels" (malaika). Again, is this really something you want to publicise? What does it prove exactly?
The word "land" appears 13 times in the Qur'an and the word "sea" 32 times, giving a total of 45 references. If we divide that number by that of the number of references to the land we arrive at the figure 28.888888888889%. The number of total references to land and sea, 45, divided by the number of references to the sea in the Qur'an, 32, is 71.111111111111%. Extraordinarily, these figures represent the exact proportions of land and sea on the Earth today. (I love this one! As b*llocks go, these are great, big sweaty pendulous ones. For starters, the ratio is CONSTANTLY CHANGING) The word "Prophet" appears 159 times. The word "False" appears 43 times. A ratio of 3.697 - amazingly the same ratio as the words "lies" and "war"!
And that's NUMBERWANG!

Don't shoot the messenger - Test the message!

iERA's (Islamic Education and Research Association) latest dawah campaign invites us to "test the message" of Islam:
What did he (peace be upon him) come to teach and what reasons do we have to believe that he was telling the truth?
Indeed - what reasons do we have to believe that Muhammad was telling the truth?

Before we consider this important question, may I say that it's a relief  (in the present climate) that iERA are giving us permission to test the message (even though they are publicising this new dawah initiative under the rather bellicose banner of Defend the Prophet! and Hamaza Tzortzis looks very angry indeed in his video ...) I'm also delighted that iERA have posed this particular question since it is one I have struggled with ever since my friend announced he had "reverted" to Islam.
Regular readers of Rational Islam? will know that the so-called scientific and historical miracles in the Qur'an played a decisive role in my friend's conversion. Hence when I asked him this very question he replied that "all the arrows" pointed towards the Qur'an having been written by God... and when asked what "arrows" in particular, he directed me to Maurice Bucaille's book: The Bible, The Qur'an and Science and to the western scientists who had made pronouncements to the effect that they could not see how the knowledge in the Qur'an in their discipline could have come from anywhere other than divine revelation.

We have seen in countless posts on this blog and elsewhere how the claims of the miracle seekers are without foundation and, in the case of the Commission on Scientific Signs, of very dubious origin. So will iERA continue to base their new dawah campaign on these modernist and divisive claims or will they turn to more traditional theological reasons?

For if I felt the need to find answers to life's great questions in a religion, then the desperate need to prove the ridiculous scientific and historic "miracles" in the holy texts of Islam by Muslims such as Yusuf Estes, Deedat, Hamza Tzortzis et al would, I'm afraid, put me right off.

So let's return to iERA's question: What reasons do we have to believe Muhammad was telling the truth that the angel Gabriel spoke to him over a period of 22 years and that the Qur'an is God's final message to mankind - perfectly preserved, word for word?

If any Muslim would like to forestall the idiots at iERA and answer my question without reference to numerology, pharaohs, mountains, honey, the water cycle, the Big Bang or f*cking embryology I would be delighted to hear from you.