A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (1

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James M. Arlandson On April 3, 2005 Mr. Soliman al-Buthe (aka AlBut’hi), a Saudi Wahabi, wrote me a letter in order to open a dialogue. Included was An Open Letter to Congress, in which he explained a gentler and kinder Wahabi movement that began in the eighteenth century by Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul al-Wahab, a Hanbalist scholar. Mr. al-Buthe says that Wahabism is a fundamentalist reform movement that that seeks to return to a purer Islam. This movement is no threat to America or the world. After a series of email in which he said that he is in contact with Saudi scholars and that I should respond to his ideas, we decided to correspond in the following format: 1. The basis of our dialogue is his Open Letter to Congress (in bold font). The endnotes can be read at the links to the Letter, provided at the fourth step, just below. 2. I (JA) will ask questions and seek explanations in each section of his Open Letter to Congress. 3. Mr. al-But’he (SaB) will respond. 4. Finally, I provide a comment, where relevant. I have also asked some scholars and colleagues to contribute their ideas, at this stage. JA: For links to the Letter without our comments and dialogue, the readers can go here or here. SaB: We are pleased to engage in this kind of dialogue with people like you. We believe that this kind of exchange of ideas has become a necessity in a world in which relations among peoples are becoming manifold and getting stronger. Only values which are truly universal -in the sense of being acceptable to human beings as human beings -- will come to survive. We also believe that that kind of exchange of ideas is possible, and becomes more fruitful if it is based on standards shared by all of humanity. We all believe in reason, in moral values like truthfulness and honesty, in empirical facts, and in preferring what is more beneficial and useful. With people like you we share something more: a belief in God. It is on shared grounds like these that our dialogue should be based. We will not be able to argue with each other if each of us takes for granted some standards that the other does not accept. On our side, we are Arabs and Muslims with an intellectual history that is different from yours, a history in which your European Enlightenment played no role. We believe in reason and emphatically do not believe that one must be a product of the Enlightenment to be rational or to scrutinize claims that are offered for belief. Humankind has been exercising this skepticism throughout history; if Europeans did do so prior to the Enlightenment perhaps that was because of some situation peculiar to Western religious or intellectual history. In any event, we do not believe that Islam should be judged by Enlightenment or any other standards that are peculiar to a certain civilization at a particular time in its history. If one must resort to

Enlightenment standards, one should select only those in which it is sincerely believed that all rational humans will accept. An Open Letter From a Saudi Wahabi To Members of the 109th U.S. Congress Author: Soliman AlBut’hi Dated: 02/03/2005 Dear Members of the 109th U.S. Congress: With God’s Name, Who is the Most Merciful, the Dispenser of Mercy. Since September 11, 2001, your distinguished body on many occasions has discussed the issue of "Wahabiism" and the threat it perceives to pose to the United States. The desire to ensure the security of one’s nation is understood and admirable; however, I believe (along with many of my fellow countrymen) that in pursuing this noble objective, both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its religious teachings and practices have been unfairly misrepresented and maligned. It is in this spirit that I humbly submit this Open Letter to the Members of the 109th Congress. I believe that in the interest of sound policymaking, I must provide you with our perspective on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and our religious practices in as concise and helpful means possible. My particular concern is that those who have testified before the various committees have included many whose opposition to so-called "Wahabi" doctrines is purely ideological and, more important, not grounded in fact. This only deepens our suspicion that, in attempting to achieve your aim of national security, Congress is being manipulated by those who seek to further their own agendas even at the expense of the United States’ true national interest. And the attacks are not limited to the halls of Congress; unjustified attacks on both the Kingdom and its religion are now being published in your most prestigious media with the purpose that long-term public opinion be turned against Kingdom, its peoples, and religion. I believe that people in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should engage in an honest and candid dialogue with the citizens of the United States and their representatives. In this spirit I have written this letter. I hope to inform its readers and clear up any misunderstandings that they might have regarding the religious teachings in today’s Saudi Arabia. Although I have addressed this letter from a Saudi "Wahabi," I first must point out that nobody in this country’s religious mainstream would refer to themselves by this name. Indeed, such a term is often used as a pejorative and is considered offensive; instead, we refer to ourselves simply as Muslims. In the end, I hope that this open letter will be the start of a continuing and fruitful dialogue between our people. JA: I start off with my own explanation and response to this section of the Open Letter. You write that "unjustified attacks on the Kingdom and on its religion are now being published in your most prestigious media with the purpose that long-term public opinion be turned against Kingdom, its peoples, and religion." You indicated in your email to me that you have read my

articles online. I admit that I have critiqued Islam as a religious system, but I do not hold a grudge against the people of Saudi Arabia. Here is my more specific explanation as to why I critique Islam as a religious system. First, I am a product of the Enlightenment (c. 1600-1800), and personally I have been trained in it. So I am merely following my training. If Islam is to survive in the West, it must undergo close scrutiny and analysis. SaB: We agree; but the same must apply to Christianity and all other beliefs and ideologies currently advocated in the West. Second, my own religion, Christianity, has been placed under the Enlightenment and postEnlightenment microscope for the past four hundred years, and Christianity has survived remarkably intact. Therefore, I still have my own religious convictions, and your religion ultimately conflicts with mine, as we shall see below. Hence, I am responding to Muhammad’s challenge that he has perfected religion (Sura 5:3) and that the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) have walked in darkness until your prophet came (Sura 5:15-16). I do not believe that his claims are true for these top ten reasons and for simple logic. So following Enlightenment principles, I will continue my hard-hitting critique of your religion in a fact-based way, not in a mean-spirited way. SaB: Has it? Many people in the West, even in the US, state otherwise. 1. Your Biblical scholars admit that there are many contradictions in your New Testament, contradictions among the four Gospels as well as within each one of them. 2. They also tell us of the existence of factual mistakes in the Gospels. It is because of this that only a few, called the fundamentalists, still believe that the Bible is the word of God in the literal sense. The majority of "Christians" concede that the Bible was written by ordinary people who were influenced by the prevailing culture of their time. It is because of this that the West does not, as we do, take its holy book’s statements seriously. 3. Westerners throw much doubt on the historical authenticity of the Bible. It is certainly not the literal word of Jesus Christ. There is no Bible in the original language of Jesus, and Westerners do not even know who made the first translation of the four Gospels. Indeed, Westerners know almost nothing about the writers of those gospels. 4. The central idea of what is called Christianity today is that Jesus is the son of God. But many Westerners now admit that this concept is full of contradictions (please see The Nicene Creed and Truth about the Trinity); in those admissions they repeat a premise that the Qur’an posited a long time ago. It is because of this problem that many Christians now reject the idea of Jesus being the son of God. And it appears that it is precisely because of this situation, among other things, that many former Christians are coming into the fold of Islam. Here are a few examples of such contradictions: a. You describe God as being the Father of Jesus, but if a Westerner is told that He cannot be a father since He has no spouse (as the Qur'an argues), some retort by saying that, since God can do any thing, why can't He create a child without a mother? Indeed He can; He created Adam without father or mother. But we are not talking here about God as creator; we are talking about Him as

being father, and about Jesus as being His only begotten son according to mainstream Christianity. If, then, God a father of Jesus He cannot be his creator, for one does not create rather; a son is begotten by a mother and not created by her or His father. b. Some Westerners reply by saying: "But you are taking the words father and son literally. We don't mean them to be literal." When, however, the same Westerners are asked to give their non-literal meaning they fall into another contradiction. "… a spiritual in which Jesus was submissive and obedient to God as His Heavenly Father." It is important to understand that through this careful definition of son-ship that Christians agree with the statements in the Qur’an that God has no partners (a physical wife or physical son); rather, Jesus was the Son of God in the sense that the Qur'an refers to Him as the Word of God and the Spirit of God -- in the sense of a spiritual relationship. Son of God is a title reflecting this relationship." (Please see Why do Christians Call Jesus the Son of God). But Word of God in the Qur'an refers to the word "Be!," as the result of which something comes into existence. The Qur'an emphasizes that fact that Jesus, like any one and any thing else, was created by God, that he is not his child, Qur'an 019: 35-36 "It befits not (the Majesty of God) that He should take to Himself a son. Glory be to Him. When He decrees a thing, He only says to it; Be! And it becomes". In this sense everything is the Word of God. It is not something peculiar to Jesus. One of our great and famous scholars put it succinctly by saying, "Jesus is not the Be!, but it was by the Be! that he came to be" c. Western dictionaries tell us that, "In modern English usage, the Son of God is almost always a reference to Jesus Christ, whom Christianity holds to be the son of the Christian God, eternally begotten of God the Father and coeternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit" Does that make any sense to you? If something is begotten, it has a beginning. How can something be eternally beginning? d. "The virginal conception, by excluding human fatherhood, affirms that Jesus' only father is the heavenly Father and that the Son's being born in time reflects his eternal birth: the Father, who begot the Son in eternity, also begets him in time as a man." (Please see Pope John Paul II, Eternal Son of God is also Born of Mary). Again, does this make any sense at all? e. Jesus, the son of God, was according to your belief crucified by some human beings. How can some one who is even half-divine be killed? f. Also, if something has no beginning, is eternal, it cannot have an end, even for seconds. This is a matter of logic. 5. In reviewing Bernard Lewis’s book, the Crisis of Islam, Robert Louis Wilken has this advice for Christians and Jews: … but as Western societies abandon traditional patterns of religious life—for example, Sunday as a holy day—and dismantle such traditional institutions as marriage, one wonders whether Christians (and Jews) should join the chorus of those urging Muslims to set out on the path taken by Western Civilization since the Enlightenment. (Please see Robert Louis Wilken, Roots of Jihad, First Things 136 (October 2003): 671.)

6. In a recent article Albert Mohler tells us about some of the things that happened to Christianity after the Enlightenment: As the 20th century began, this accommodation became increasingly evident as the church acquiesced to a culture of moral individualism. … … In the wake of the Enlightenment, criticism of the Bible and the doctrines of evangelical orthodoxy was widespread. Even the most conservative denominations began to show evidence of decreased attention to theological orthodoxy. … … The theological category of sin has been replaced, in many circles, with the psychological concept of therapy… Sex is on the loose. Shame days are over… … Homosexuality is not condemned, even though it is clearly condemned in the Bible. To the contrary, homosexuals get a special caucus at the denominational assembly and their own publications and special rights. (Please see The Disappearance of Church Discipline--How Can We Recover? Part One.)

Continue with James Arlandson's response to the above.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (2)
JA: Greetings. I am finally getting back to you after a long time. I have been occupied with posting articles on various issues. I must admit that when I got your response (in green), I was disappointed. Your Open Letter to Congress has nothing to do with abstract theology, so I decided to dialogue with you. Most people want to know how to live to the fullest. They really do not care about these doctrinal disputes or differences. However, I now attempt to reply to your points, following your sequence of issues. Points 1-3 Is the Bible reliable and accurate? Your first three points call into question the reliability and authenticity of the Bible. You say that Bible scholars admit there are many contradictions in it. You link to "Sullivan County." I am not sure who the webmaster is, but he does not seem to be a reputable scholar. In any case, these harsh critics of the Bible exist. This is the unpleasant part of the Enlightenment. When or if an equally demanding Enlightenment hits Islamic countries, the Quran will undergo such criticism (see the very next section). However, I can find equally reputable scholars who say that the Bible is reliable and accurate. For example, these two high-level scholars from an earlier generation, F. F. Bruce, citing Sir Frederic Kenyon, conclude the following:

To sum up, we may quote the verdict of the late Sir Frederic Kenyon, a scholar whose authority to make pronouncements on ancient MSS [manuscripts] was second to none: "The interval then between the data of original composition and the earliest extant evidence become so small to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scripture have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established." (Source) These two current scholars reach the same conclusion: The overwhelming majority of the text of the Greek New Testament is firmly established. Where uncertainties remain, in no case is any doctrinal matter at issue. (D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. Zondervan, 2005, p. 30) Is the Quran pure and uncorrupted? By criticizing the Bible, you allow me to challenge the Quran. Muslims believe that it reached earth from Allah in an uncorrupted state and remained that way. However, plain facts contradict this belief. Here are four examples, which could be multiplied. First, this hadith from Bukhari (a highly reliable collector and editor of hadith) says that Uthman burned different versions of the Quran. . . . ‘Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. (Bukhari) It is one thing to prepare the final version (if one exists of the Quran), but burning alternate versions? This is wrong. What was Uthman afraid of? Second, this hadith says that the Quran was recited seven different ways: Allah's Apostle said, "Gabriel recited the Qur'an to me in one way. Then I requested him (to read it in another way), and continued asking him to recite it in other ways, and he recited it in several ways till he ultimately recited it in seven different ways." (Bukhari; and see the longer hadith below this one.) Would these seven recitations produce different version of the Quran? Other hadiths (see the linked articles, below) reveal that four different reciters spoke the Quran in different versions. Is this why Uthman was so anxious to burn the different versions? For more information see this article and this one. Third, a sound hadith from Sahih Muslim says that an entire sura (chapter), which had over a hundred verses, is missing from the Quran. . . . We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara'at [Sura 9, which has 129 verses]. I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it:" If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of Adam, he would

long for a third valley, and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of Adam but dust." (Muslim no. 2286; see the four hadiths above this one) Fourth and finally, this is an interesting modern discovery: a "buried" version of the Quran. In 1972, during the restoration of the Great Mosque of Sana'a, in Yemen, laborers working in a loft between the structure's inner and outer roofs stumbled across a remarkable gravesite, although they did not realize it at the time . . . in this case the resting place for, among other things, tens of thousands of fragments from close to a thousand different parchment codices of the Koran, the Muslim holy scripture. In some pious Muslim circles it is held that worn-out or damaged copies of the Koran must be removed from circulation; hence the idea of a grave, which both preserves the sanctity of the texts being laid to rest and ensures that only complete and unblemished editions of the scripture will be read . . . Since the early 1980s more than 15,000 sheets of the Yemeni Korans have painstakingly been flattened, cleaned, treated, sorted, and assembled; they now sit ("preserved for another thousand years," Puin says) in Yemen's House of Manuscripts, awaiting detailed examination. That is something the Yemeni authorities have seemed reluctant to allow, however. "They want to keep this thing low-profile, as we do too, although for different reasons," Puin explains. "They don't want attention drawn to the fact that there are Germans and others working on the Korans. They don't want it made public that there is work being done at all, since the Muslim position is that everything that needs to be said about the Koran's history was said a thousand years ago." (Source) Why won’t the authorities allow its publication? What are they hiding? Please see this webpage that has many links to articles and hadiths on the corruptibility of the Quran. I wrote this article explaining that Muhammad borrows from the apocryphal gospels even though he claims explicitly that he received this specific information about events in young Mary’s life (and, by extension, in young Jesus’ life) from revelation alone (Sura 3:44). It is true that a few New Testament authors borrow a line or two from non-Christian Greek poets, but they never claimed that they got this specific information only from Gabriel or only from a heightened state of ecstatic revelatory and sweaty inspiration. Does culture influence sacred texts? Next, you say in point no. 2 that "the Bible was written by ordinary people who were influenced by the prevailing culture of their time." Apparently, you believe that this is abnormal and calls into question the reliability of the Bible, as if culture taints it. You seem to imply that the Quran was not influenced by its prevailing seventh-century culture in Arabia. In reply, however, by criticizing the Bible in this way, I am permitted to point out the obvious about the Quran. The implication that the Quran has not been influenced by culture is simply not true. For example, Sura 5:38 says that the male or female thief should have his or her hand cut off. Ibn Kathir, a respected classical commentator, says the following about the gruesome punishment and its cultural origins: Allah commands and decrees that the hand of the thief, male or female be cut off. During the time of Jahiliyyah [ignorance before Islam], this was also the punishment for the thief, and Islam upheld this punishment. (Tafir Ibn Kathir (abridged), translated and edited by SafiurRahman al-Mubarakpuri, Darussalam, 2000, vol. 3, p. 172)

So it seems, after all, that the Quran does not rise above its own culture, but retains a severe punishment. Also, Muhammad raided Meccan caravans. He was following his culture, which engaged in this practice all the time. The Quran in the Medinan suras that often call for war reflects Muhammad’s Sunnah, which in turn reflects seventh-century Arabia (see Sura 8 in its entirety, which deals with the Battle of Badr, merely another raid, but on a larger scale). Point 4a-f In these subpoints you ask a flurry of questions and throw in many terms and concepts. So this section of my reply is the longest. What does "begetting" mean? Your challenges about this term rest on old ideas, not modern research. The Greek word at issue (see for example John 3:16) is monogenês. Traditionally, this has been translated as "only begotten." However, new lexical research in the twentieth century on this word in the ancient Greek world concludes that the second half of the word (-genês) does not refer to "beget," but to "class" or "kind." Now when we add mono- back to -genês, the word most accurately means "one-of-a-kind" or "unique" or "in a class by itself or himself." In relation to the Sonship of Jesus, the most accurate meaning reads: "one-of-a-kind Son" or "unique Son" or "the Son in a class by himself." This is why the translation called the New International Version (NIV) has in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only [monogenês] Son." The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) has for the same verse . . . "only [monogenês] Son." And the margin of the New American Standard Bible (NASB) reads: "unique, only one of His kind" for the same Greek word. Thus, the notion of "begetting" is removed from the Sonship of Jesus, and so are the complications that you raise. Jesus is the one-of-a-kind Son who is in a class all by himself. He is not begotten, except possibly in the context of his resurrection and exaltation after his ascension (see Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5, 5:5, which quote Psalm 2:7 that speaks of a coronation, an apt description of Christ’s ascension). He has lived eternally with the Father, without beginning. This is simple. This brings us back directly to the inspired New Testament, without having to appeal to and depend on later human opinions. Source: Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 2000), pp. 1233-34. See this webpage that in turn links to other articles on the issue of "begotten." However, you seem to question the theology of some theologians and Christians ("mainstream Christians" is your wording). Perhaps you mean those in early church Councils (e.g. Nicea in AD 325), such as Athanasius, (d. 373), or specifically Pope John Paul II (your point no. 4d); the members of the Council of Nicea seem to have understood monogenês as containing the idea of "begotten." Therefore, allow me to explain the term in three steps, assuming, only for the sake of discussion, that "begotten" really is contained in the Greek word.

First, words may take on different meanings and nuances in different contexts. For example, the word "apology" in one context means an expression of remorse or regret, or an admission of error. Thus, "I offer an apology for offending you." But in another context "apology" can mean defense. "I offer an apology of my religion." These two meanings (admission of errors vs. defense against errors) go in opposite directions. This shows how fluid language and even one word can be, from one context to the next. Second, this fluidity can be applied to "begotten." It can have different meanings or nuances, depending on the context. Down here on earth, "begotten" has a temporal meaning. A man begets a son, who has a beginning. However, in the eternal realm, where God lives, the word takes on the quality of eternity. This means that the Father’s begetting of the Son of God does not have a beginning. This unique relationship between Father and Son has always existed from eternity past and will exist into eternity future, according to the full teaching of the entire New Testament. Third, you require me to explain the words of a much greater Christian and theologian than myself—the late Pope John Paul II. You quote him in your point no. 4d, and ask me if his words make sense to me. They do, and here is my explanation, tentatively. You quote Pope John Paul II as follows: "The virginal conception, by excluding human fatherhood, affirms that Jesus' only father is the heavenly Father and that the Son's being born in time reflects his eternal birth: the Father, who begot the Son in eternity, also begets him in time as a man." If I understand this man of God, he seems to create an analogy. (Note the word "reflects," as in proposition A reflects or is similar to proposition B.) It compares the Father-Son relationship in the eternal realm (heaven) and this same relationship in the temporal realm (earth). The eternal "begetting" without beginning "reflects" the earthly "begetting" when Jesus takes on his humanity, by the Spirit of God, in the womb of Mary. In both contexts, the Father begets the Son. But all analogies are imperfect, so we should not take this one too far. Essential doctrines should not be based on them. It seems merely that the Pope discusses the Father-Son relationship in its unique and one-of-a-kind mode because it existed in heaven before Jesus was born of Mary, and it still exists in heaven after Jesus’ ascension back into heaven after his resurrection. These two realms (heaven and earth) resolve the alleged contradictions that you raise in the word "begetting." On earth it has a beginning. In heaven it does not have a beginning, but it is eternal, in the unique and eternal Father-Son relationship, according to the full teaching of the New Testament. But please note: This quick comment on the late Pope’s ideas is only tentative, not authoritative. However, I believe that the idea of "begetting" is excluded from monogenês, so for me the complexities do not exist. Jesus is the eternal Son of God without beginning. He has always existed alongside the Father, sharing the same substance, essence, and being. See my article on the Trinity here, which links to many other articles.

Does the Quran have a mysterious mother? Now let’s throw a challenge about the Quran at you and your fellow scholars. By criticizing Christian doctrine (which is not part of your original Open Letter to Congress), you allow me to challenge Islamic doctrine. What happens if we take a literal reading of some passages about Allah and the Quran? Does the Quran have a mysterious mother? I have edited this excerpt from two colleagues at answeringislam.org. Incidentally, the Saudi authorities have blocked this Christian site from entering the internet in your country. This is odd. If Islam is so awesome and it contains the Final and Best Revelation, then what is your government hiding from your fellow citizens? It seems that they would remain within Islam no matter what this Christian website teaches. The Truth of Islam would keep them in. In any case, Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz write about the assertion in the Quran that Allah must have a wife or consort in order to produce a son or an offspring. They begin: The Holy Bible often calls Jesus the Son of God and states that God is his Father, titles or expressions denoting a purely spiritual relationship between God and Christ. These terms have absolutely no sexual or carnal overtones whatsoever, i.e. they do not imply that God had sex with a woman (specifically Mary) who then gave birth to Jesus his Son. The Quran, however, assumes that the only way for God to be the Father of Jesus (or of anyone else) is through sexual procreation, that God can only become a Father by having a wife with whom he has sex. This is the main argument of the Quran against believing that God has a Son. The Quran emphatically states: And they make the jinn associates with Allah, while He created them, and they falsely attribute to Him sons and daughters without knowledge; glory be to Him, and highly exalted is He above what they ascribe (to Him). Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth! How could He have a son when He has no consort, and He (Himself) created everything, and He is the Knower of all things. S. 6:100-101 Shakir ... The argument looks like this, in modus tollens form [denying the consequent or the "then" clause in premise one]: (1) If Allah has a son, then he must have (had sex with) a consort or wife. (2) Allah does not have a consort (i.e. this is impossible for whatever reason). (3) Therefore the claim that Allah has a son is refuted. Now let’s apply the same unsound logic to the Quran and its mysterious mother. Shamoun and Katz continue: There are several places where the Quran makes mention of the "mother of the book" (omm al-kitab), and in one place the Quran even claims that this is where it originated:

God doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth: with Him is the Mother of the Book (ommu alkitabi). S. 13:39 Y. Ali Verily, we have made it an Arabic Qur'an; haply ye will have some sense. And it is in the Mother of the Book (ommi alkitabi) with Us,- high and wise. S. 43:3-4 Palmer The mother of the book which contains the Quran is with God, an important point for our discussion as we shall shortly see. In another place it is said that the Quran’s clear verses are actually "the mother of the book": He it is who has revealed to thee the Book, of which there are some verses that are decisive, they are the mother of the Book (ommu alkitabi); and others ambiguous; but as for those in whose hearts is perversity, they follow what is ambiguous, and do crave for sedition, craving for (their own) interpretation of it; but none know the interpretation of it except God. But those who are well grounded in knowledge say, 'We believe in it; it is all from our Lord; but none will remember save those who possess minds. S. 3:7 Palmer Hence, the Quran originates from the mother of the book and its clear verses are the mother of the book, which means that the Quran has at least two mothers! Now if the logic of the Quran is true, then this means that the mother of the book has a spouse with whom she has sex. After all, how can she be a mother, or have any children, if she has no husband, no spouse? We can even reword Sura 6:101 in the following manner: Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth! How could She (this unknown mysterious woman) be the Quran’s mother if she has no consort…? But since this mysterious woman does have offspring [the Quran], then she must have a husband, and here is where the real problem lies for Muslims: Since the Quran is believed to be the word of Allah, which makes him the source of the Quran, then this means that Allah is its father and the husband of the Quran’s mother! And since Muslims believe that the Quran is the uncreated speech of Allah, then this means that its mother is also uncreated. The Quran cannot exist before its mother which means that if the Quran is eternal then so is its mother, also implying that Allah has always been married! After all, whose wife could the Quran’s mother be if Allah is the only other entity that existed before creation? Again, note the logic behind this: (4) If the Quran has a mother, then the Quran must be an offspring. (5) But if the Quran is an offspring, then it must have a mother and a father. (6) If it has a mother and a father, then they must have had sex to produce the offspring. (7) Suras 13:39, 43:3-4, and 3:7 say that the Quran indeed has a mother. (8) Therefore, its mother and father must have had sex. (9) Hence, the best candidate for the father and the mother of the Quran is Allah and an eternal mysterious mother with whom he had sex. The readers should be able to see from our brief critique and examination why the Quran’s claim that God cannot have children is seriously flawed. If God can have children only through sexual intercourse, by having a wife, then the Quran is in grave trouble [because of] this fallacious logic . . .

The Muslim will obviously contend that the expressions "mother of," "son of" are not being used in a physical, sexual sense, but in a purely metaphorical or spiritual sense, at least in these specific citations. The Muslim may argue that sexual activity is not necessary to be a child or parent in the sense intended by these various Quranic references. These terms can carry a broader range of meaning than merely the physical, carnal one and the context must therefore determine the specific application. But this explanation only proves that the Quran is wrong and its reasoning is invalid. After all, if it is possible for someone to be a parent or child in a way that doesn’t require sexual procreation, then this means it is also possible for God to be a spiritual parent without having to engage in sex or needing a physical wife. This basically means that it doesn’t follow from the Quran's premises that God must have a wife or engage in sexual activity in order to be a father or have a son; and since he has no sexual relations and has no wife he cannot, therefore, be a parent. The Quran’s argument against God’s Fatherhood or Christ’s Sonship is flat out wrong . . . Here is the correct understanding, in a logically valid chain argument, which the Quran completely misses: (10) If God is Spirit (John 4:24), then he did not have to have sex with a consort or a wife to be a Father. (11) If Father God did not have to have sex with a consort or wife, then he has a nonphysical, spiritual, and eternal relationship with his offspring. (12) The Word of God says that God is Spirit. (13) Therefore, he has a nonphysical, spiritual, and eternal relationship with his offspring— the Son of God, the blessed and holy Lord Jesus. (Source) Here is my concluding comment on the entire excerpt. This is what happens when we take things too literally. The Quran does not literally have a mother who had sexual relations with Allah; in the same way the eternal Father was not required to have sex to "beget" the eternal Son of God. Therefore, we should not take our sacred texts too literally. Why do millions of Africans leave Islam and convert to Christianity? You write in point no. 4 that the complexities about the Sonship of Christ may drive some Christians "into the fold of Islam." In reply, however, this may be true for some people, but I do not believe that most ordinary people are concerned about abstract doctrines. Instead, they want to know how to live in peace, and this is what Islam is all about, isn’t it? This desire to live life without harassment may explain why six million African Muslims are leaving Islam and converting to Christianity each year. Islam is a burdensome, severe, and harsh religion. The following legal decrees, policies, and practices demonstrate Islam’s excesses. They go outside of mere verbal assertions and mental beliefs and high-minded theology. Every one of them comes from the Quran itself, followed by chapter and verse.

Anyone who accuses someone else of sexual sin must bring four witnesses; if not, the accuser gets eighty lashes (24:4);

  

             

Husbands are a degree above their wives in status (2:228); reliable hadiths say that the majority of the inhabitants of hell are women due only because of their "harshness and ingratitude," not because of their numerical majority around the globe; A male gets a double share of the inheritance over that of a female (4:11); A woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony because she may "forget" (2:282). Reliable hadiths say this law is based on the "deficiency of a woman’s mind"; A man may divorce his wife merely if he says "I divorce you" three times (2:229). This verse is baffling because it does not say explicitly "three times." But Islamic law interprets it in this way. A wife may remarry her ex-husband if and only if she marries another man, they have sex, and then this second man divorces her (2:230); Muhammad has special marriage privileges (as many women as he desires), which only he enjoys (33:50); A Muslim man may be polygamous with up to four wives (4:3); Muhammad gets twenty percent from his seventy-four raids and wars in ten years in Medina (8:1, 41); Muhammad bought off converts (9:60); Husbands may hit their wife or wives (4:34); Mature men may marry and consummate their marriage with prepubescent girls (65:4); Slavery is endorsed: Muhammad himself traded in slaves and owned black slaves; and Muslim men may have sex with slave-girls (4:24; 47:4; 23:5-6; 70:29-30); Sexual sinners must be whipped a hundred times (24:2), and sound hadiths say adulterers and homosexuals must be executed; Critics of Islam and Muslims may be killed (33:59-61); The Quran endorses and celebrates the massacre of Jewish men and pubescent boys and the enslavement of the women and children (33:25-27); Jihadists buy status in this life and in the afterlife (4:74; 4:95-96; 9:38-44, 86-87, and 111; 61:10-11); Polytheists in the Arabian Peninsula had to convert or die (9:5); Muhammad is the first to launch his own Crusade long before western Europeans responded with their own (9:29).

This list is all about physical acts here on earth, not about abstract doctrines like "begetting." These acts and legal decrees can be measured and evaluated with our own eyes and sound reason, and how do they come out? Not very well, to say the least. Further, it may be fairly asked: Did Jesus and his Apostles and the New Testament authors say or do these things? Not even close. Therefore, if a Christian wants to enter into "the fold of Islam," then that is his prerogative. But maybe this list will tell him that abstract doctrines per se do not harm or maim or kill people. But the implementation of this list does exactly that. If you or the readers suspect that these verses have been taken out of context, you and they may click on the following articles that in turn have long and several supporting articles behind each item on the list: Why I don’t convert to Islam Top ten reasons why Islam is not the religion of peace

Top ten reasons why Islamic law is bad for all societies Top ten rules in the Quran that oppress women. Does the Old Testament command some severe punishments? Yes, but go here to find out why they no longer apply in the New Testament. Can someone even half-divine be killed? Finally, you ask this question as if the answer is self-evident (point no. 4e). Indeed, this is easy to answer, but not in a way that satisfies certain Muslims. I see nothing in divinity that precludes the Ultimate Sacrifice, if and only if the Deity willingly and voluntarily lays down his life. Jesus himself says that he did not come to earth to be served and pampered: . . . The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28) In these next two verses he says that he willingly lays down his life. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again (John 10:17-18) Christianity does not put God so far up in heaven that he lives in a silver box or golden cage, isolated. It is risky to assert that God cannot do something. Limiting the limitless Deity is misguided. I believe that the Son of God freely choosing to step down in time and space is the most blessed doctrine in all of Christian theology. He did this out of his good will and his powerful love. I would never give up this miracle and historical reality. It benefits humanity greatly. Thus, for me, there is nothing inherent in God’s nature that blocks him from stepping down into time and space, showing us a better way and redeeming us and offering us the gift of eternal life with him. Nothing inherent in his nature? If someone has a prior belief that God could not do this, then what is his starting point for his belief? The Quran? But the New Testament says that the Incarnation happened. So we have two sacred texts that have competing doctrines. How do we break the deadlock? For me, the answer is not found in abstract theology, but in practical matters down here on earth. And the long list of policies taken from the Quran in the previous section and the four linked articles (that support the list) resolve the conflict and answer the debate. If Islam and its foundation—the Quran—are harsh and excessive in practical matters, then why should I listen to the Quran in abstract doctrines? I don’t listen to it.

Points 5 and 6 Is the Enlightenment perfect? These two points indicate that there is a negative or a downside to the Enlightenment. You quote Robert Louis Wilken’s book review of Bernard Lewis’ Crisis of Islam. Maybe Islamic countries should avoid the Enlightenment, he says. In reply, no one says that the Enlightenment does not bring a backlash. The movement was huge and diverse. It has a sting in it, perhaps many stings. But I believe that the benefits outweigh the liabilities, especially in politics and plain, everyday life. The above list (see "Why do millions leave Islam?") explains how the Enlightenment can help Islam, in practical areas. We do not need revelations in a holy book that was too deeply influenced by its seventh-century Arab culture in its laws and policies. We can use sound reason to figure out how to divide an inheritance between a male and female, or why husbands should never hit their wives—at any time or in any circumstance, or why marrying and having sex with prepubescent girls is wrong at all times. Does Islam deal effectively with sexual sinners? Next, you quote Dr. Albert Mohler, who laments a lack of church discipline and the aggressive homosexual agenda in America. In reply, though I do not know Dr. Mohler, I have heard him on the radio. He is allowed to preach righteousness to society and influence public policy, especially church policy. But I can guarantee you that he would not advocate executing homosexuals. But the prophet of Islam did this. First, the Sunan Abu Dawud says that Ibn Abbas reports the following about early Islam and Muhammad’s punishment of homosexuals: . . . "If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done" (no. 4447). The next one below no. 4447 says that an unmarried man who commits sodomy should be stoned to death: "Ibn Abbas said: if a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death" (no. 4448). Third and finally, in the hadith collection Mishkhat al-Masabih, a compendium that brings together other hadith collections, your prophet prescribes the punishments of being burned to death and having heavy objects thrown on guilty homosexuals: Ibn Abbas and Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, "Accursed is he who does what Lot’s people did." In a version . . . on the authority of Ibn Abbas it says that Ali [Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law] had two people burned and that Abu Bakr [Muhammad’s chief companion] had a wall thrown down on them. (Trans. James Robson, Prescribed Punishments, vol. 1, p. 765)

For more information on Islam’s and Christianity’s policies on homosexuality, go to this article. I do not deny that the West has not reached moral perfection. The West indeed has its share of problems. However, you seem to believe that without the Enlightenment of any kind and with Islam’s guidance in a society, problems vanish away. But this webpage has further links to homosexual activity in Saudi Arabia, the land of the two Holy Mosques (in Mecca and Medina). To cite only one specific example from the previous webpage, on April 7, 2005, it was reported that Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for "gay conduct." On or about March 26, a Jeddah court, meeting in a closed session in which defense attorneys were excluded, sentenced 31 of the men to prison for six months to one year, and to 200 lashes each, for unreported offenses. Four other men received two years’ imprisonment and 2,000 lashes. Police released more than 70 of the men not long after their initial arrest; reports in the Saudi press suggested that personal contacts with the government had intervened on their behalf. However, on April 3, police summoned the 70 men back to a local police station and informed them that they had been sentenced to one year’s imprisonment. Is whipping and executing and imprisoning sinners in order to force and impose external righteousness the best policy? "If only we could catch and punish more sinners, then we could teach them a lesson! Then the others will straighten up! We could eliminate the problem! In fact, let’s kill them after a judge orders their execution!" This seems to be the yearning of many Muslims whose ideas I read online or in print media. However, people need to change from the inside out. Forcing holiness on to people does not work in the long run and for everybody. Conclusion Mr. Al-Buthe, please consider this. You may believe that Saudi Arabia does not want nor need all of the Enlightenment (even Islam’s own version—today—not a thousand years ago), but the long list of practical policies (see "Why do millions leave Islam?" above) tells me two things: (1) The Quran absorbed too much of its culture. If it improved on seventh-century Arabia, then it did not go far enough for a religion that claims universality. (2) When a religion (church or mosque) becomes the government, it tends to oppress people. It is better to let people live in freedom, even if they abuse it. That is the lesson of history in the West. I admit that the West has gone too far in decadence, but if we cannot strike the perfect balance between freedom and limitations, then surely you agree that freedom is better than repression, don’t you? Then the citizens of your country can breathe the fresh air of liberty without being harassed by religious police that stalk your country. Continue with Part Three.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (3)
Open Letter to Congress (continued): History Muslims believe that Islam is God’s final revelation to all of mankind sent via the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet was born in 570 CE in Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia. This message of Islam was sent as a continuation of the message sent to all God’s Prophets and Messengers. The essence of that message is to worship God alone and do good to one’s fellow man. It is a message that should resonate strongly with Christians, for indeed the Bible reports that Jesus himself said, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only." At the time that Islam was revealed, the Arabs were steeped in paganism, idolatry, and infanticide. As one of the companions of Muhammad had explained to the Christian ruler of Abyssinia: "We were a people in a state of ignorance and immorality, worshipping idols and eating the flesh of dead animals; committing all sorts of abomination and shameful deeds; breaking the ties of kinship; treating guests badly; and the strong among us exploited the weak." The companion then described what God had commanded His Prophet and Muslims to "to worship Allah alone and to renounce the stones and the idols which we and our ancestors used to worship besides Allah. He commanded us to speak the truth, to honor our promises, to be kind to our relations; to be helpful to our neighbors; to cease all forbidden acts, to abstain from bloodshed; to avoid obscenities and false witness; not to appropriate an orphan's property nor slander chaste women; He ordered us to worship God alone and not to associate anything with him; to uphold prayer; to give alms and fast in the month of Ramadan." This message of Islam spread throughout Arabia and then throughout the world, has been embraced by people of all cultures and societies, and has brought forth one of the great civilizations of human history. JA: I will skip over the second paragraph that discusses Islam’s transformation of the Arabian Peninsula and instead ask two questions about the first paragraph in this section. 1. You say that Islam is the final revelation for humankind. Does it ultimately complete and fulfill Christianity (Sura 5:15-16)? SaB: Yes, indeed it does. But the Christianity that it completes and fulfills is the true Message with which Jesus came. The verses you quoted state that the first thing that Islam does to that message is to present it as it truly was.

2. Since Islam is the continuation of religions, is it the will of Allah that Islam must spread around the world (Suras 61:9, 48:28, 9:33)? SaB: Yes, indeed; a. Islam sees itself, as does contemporary Christianity, as the only means by which mankind can be saved. As such, all Muslims are inspired by concern for their brothers in humanity to spread this soul-saving message. b. The requirement that Muslims spread their faith through argumentation and reason is what God asserts in Qur'an 061:009 "He it is Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it conqueror of all religion however much polytheists may be averse." This is what is happening in the world today; it is a simple fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, including in the U.S.A. c. We believe that Islam speaks for itself, that our charity and kindness and peace will bring people to Islam. It is in fact forbidden even to attempt to force anyone to Islam. The Qur’an tells us that there is no compulsion in religion. Why? Because Islam is based on a faith that can only reside in the heart, and it is futile to force one to have that kind of faith, Recent events have "forced" people to learn more about our religion, and this is the reason you and others have questions, which is good. But the perpetrators who caused those events were not acting as Muslims. Their actions are completely forbidden. d. You believe as I do that our Creator is wise, generous and all-knowing. It is He, we all believe, who is providing us with every thing that we need for the maintenance of our biological life. But the Creator knows that it is more in virtue of our souls than our bodies, that we are the human beings we are. He would not therefore neglect to provide us with what we need for the welfare of our souls. This is why He has been sending messengers to us to convey messages from Him that give us guidance on how to lead a life acceptable to Him, and leading such a life makes us happy. When God sends a message He must ensure that it be available to all who are interested in it and that it be understood by them. Where is this message now? Muslims are the only people who even claim that they are in possession of such a message. They have historical evidence that the Qur’an that they are now reading is the same precise words that were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Neither the Jews nor the Christians can make such a claim, a fact that some biblical scholars admit. JA: My comments on this part of our dialogue come in five numbered points. (1) You write in answer to my first question on Islam fulfilling Christianity: Yes, indeed it does. But the Christianity that it completes and fulfills is the true Message with which Jesus came. The verses you quoted [Sura 5:15-16] state that the first thing that Islam does to that message is to present it as it truly was. Does Islam present the message of Jesus "as it truly was"? This implies that the Quran corrects the New Testament, a common belief among Muslims. As we shall see in my fifth point and in the Conclusion, below, the Quran itself is in need of correction—in fact, the list, below, demonstrates this.

In your second paragraph of your Open Letter, you list some positive things that the Quran commands, such as speaking the truth, honoring promises, being kind to relations, being helpful to neighbors, abstaining from bloodshed, avoiding obscenities and false witness, neither appropriating an orphan's property nor slandering chaste women, and so on. I acknowledge that many items on your list help society. Those positive commands are good, but they are all found in Christian ethics, so the Quran does not bring anything new in this regard. They are not areas of disagreement between us. However, one of the main reasons why I have written my articles is to expose all of Islam to unsuspecting Westerners and others. To withhold valuable information that clarifies all aspects of "the final revelation" is wrong. But this is what I find Muslims frequently doing, as I read their articles online or in the print media—leaving out the unpleasant and violent parts of Muhammad’s Sunnah and his Quran. I do not believe that Islam completes and fulfills Christianity. I have produced the following list in Part Two, but since that part is so long and deals too often with abstract doctrines, I repeat the list here. I do not want the readers to miss it.
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Anyone who accuses someone else of sexual sin must bring four witnesses; if not, the accuser gets eighty lashes (24:4); Husbands are a degree above their wives in status (2:228); reliable hadiths say that the majority of the inhabitants of hell are women due only because of their "harshness and ingratitude," not because of their numerical majority around the globe; A male gets a double share of the inheritance over that of a female (4:11); A woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony because she may "forget" (2:282). Reliable hadiths say this law is based on the "deficiency of a woman’s mind"; A man may divorce his wife merely if he says "I divorce you" three times (2:229). This verse is baffling because it does not say explicitly "three times." But Islamic law interprets it in this way. A wife may remarry her ex-husband if and only if she marries another man, they have sex, and then this second man divorces her (2:230); Muhammad has special marriage privileges (as many women as he desires), which only he enjoys (33:50); A Muslim man may be polygamous with up to four wives (4:3); Muhammad gets twenty percent from his seventy-four raids and wars in ten years in Medina (8:1, 41); Muhammad bought off converts (9:60); Husbands may hit their wife or wives (4:34); Mature men may marry and consummate their marriage with prepubescent girls (65:4); Slavery is endorsed: Muhammad himself traded in slaves and owned black slaves; and Muslim men may have sex with slave-girls (4:24; 47:4; 23:5-6; 70:29-30); Sexual sinners must be whipped a hundred times (24:2), and sound hadiths say adulterers and homosexuals must be executed; Critics of Islam and Muslims may be killed (33:59-61); The Quran endorses and celebrates the massacre of Jewish men and pubescent boys and the enslavement of the women and children (33:25-27); Jihadists buy status in this life and in the afterlife (4:74; 4:95-96; 9:38-44, 86-87, and 111; 61:10-11); Polytheists in the Arabian Peninsula had to convert or die (9:5);

Muhammad is the first to launch his own Crusade long before western Europeans responded with their own (9:29).

This list balances out your positive one in the second paragraph of your Open Letter. It is one thing for the Quran to preach those positive rules to seventh-century Arabs, who (you believe) needed them. But you also say that the Quran is God’s final revelation to all of humanity, even though other holy books teach right social behavior. So do we really need the Quran when it is filled with such dubious and violent verses that Muslim missionaries would like to implement around the globe? Your prophet suffers from the disadvantage of coming six hundred years after Jesus, who showed us a better way and ushered in a new era of salvation, an era that does not oppress people and force holiness and religious conformity on them from the outside in. Therefore, objectively speaking, if Islam and the Quran complete and fulfill Christianity and the New Testament, then the later religion (Islam) and text (the Quran) have dragged my religion and sacred text backwards by at least two thousands of years, before Jesus came. One of the first strategies that Muslim apologists use to reply to such excesses in the Quran is to remind Christians about the severe commands in the Old Testament. However, we Christians benefit from this older sacred text, but we also believe that Jesus Christ fulfilled it, so we no longer have to live under the Old Law. If you or the readers suspect that these verses have been taken out of context, you and they may click on the following articles that in turn have long and several supporting articles behind each item on the list: Why I don’t convert to Islam Top ten reasons why Islam is not the religion of peace Top ten reasons why Islamic law is bad for all societies Top ten rules in the Quran that oppress women. This article provides more evidence that Islam does not improve on Christianity. (2) You say in Point a: Islam sees itself, as does contemporary Christianity, as the only means by which mankind can be saved. As such, all Muslims are inspired by concern for their brothers in humanity to spread this soul-saving message. I asked this question in Part Two of our dialogue: Did Jesus and his Apostles and the New Testament authors say or do these things on that list in my previous point, above? Not even close. The question and answer still stand. This is why I doubt seriously that Islam and the Quran are "the final revelation" for humanity. For the vast differences between Jesus and Muhammad, taken from the New Testament and the Quran, please read this list. (3) This is my comment on your Point b that says:

b. The requirement that Muslims spread their faith through argumentation and reason is what God asserts in Qur'an 061:009 "He it is Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it conqueror of all religion however much polytheists may be averse." This is what is happening in the world today; it is a simple fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, including in the U.S.A. It is interesting that the translation of Sura 61:9 that you choose reads "conqueror" in the context of Islam prevailing over every religion. This apt translation catches the path of Muhammad who either went out on or sent out seventy-four raids, assassination hit squads, skirmishes, and full-scale wars, such as the conquest of Mecca in early AD 630. The Meccan polytheists were "averse" (a word in Sura 61:9) to this conquest, but they were so worn down by your prophet’s raids, conflicts, and battles that they surrendered, but not before Khalid alWalid killed about two dozen who "resisted" (according to his own report). Whereas Islam may be spread by reason and argumentation (our dialogue proves this), the path of Muhammad says that Islam is also spread by violent means, and this information should not be withheld. Next, you repeat the common belief that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. But this belief is simply untrue. (In the West Mormonism may be the fastest.) Regardless, Islam is growing fast in the West, but this is not surprising. The West has been already saturated with Christianity, culturally (not Biblically). So if a new religion sprouts up (at least new to the West in its own countries), then it appears to be the fastest growing. Here is an analogy that may clarify matters, though the numbers and the years are made up. Let us imagine that in 1975, fifty million Americans purchased cars made in America. But foreign car manufacturers sold their cars in the American market in that same year. Let us pretend that one million Americans bought the foreign cars. In 1976, ten million new and additional customers bought American-made cars, but two million new and additional customers chose the foreign models. What are the increases? The foreign manufacturers doubled their growth, but the American cars, by comparison, did not do as well. Yet the American cars still dominate the domestic market. Thus, in the same way, Islam may be (or may not be) the fastest growing religion in the West, but Islam has a long way to go. Here is the point: the phrase "fastest growing religion" in a Western context can be misleading. In the rest of the world, the claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion is untrue. In many nations, Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds. China is rapidly becoming more Christian, seeing the conversion of millions each year. In a few decades Sub-Saharan Africa will be mostly Christian. India is being blessed with large Christian meetings. Some examples follow: Six million African Muslims are leaving Islam and converting to Christianity each year. This is one large outdoor meeting in Africa, led by one German evangelist. Only slightly smaller Christian meetings happen often in this continent. In Pakistan, one Christian woman evangelist hosted a capacity crowd in a football stadium that holds 100,000 spectators.

This book spells out the growth of Christianity in China: Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. (4) For your Point c, you say: c. We believe that Islam speaks for itself, that our charity and kindness and peace will bring people to Islam. It is in fact forbidden even to attempt to force anyone to Islam. The Qur’an tells us that there is no compulsion in religion. Why? Because Islam is based on a faith that can only reside in the heart, and it is futile to force one to have that kind of faith, Recent events have "forced" people to learn more about our religion, and this is the reason you and others have questions, which is good. But the perpetrators who caused those events were not acting as Muslims. Their actions are completely forbidden. First, you quote from Sura 2:256. This entire sura is generally regarded as one of the earliest after Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina in AD 622. He wanted to be accepted by all peoples, particularly Jews, so the verse reflects this desire (the sura has many passages discussing Jewish Scriptures and beliefs). But there is an unpleasant verse in Sura 9 (and there are many). This sura is the last one to be revealed in its entirety, and many Muslims believe that it abrogates or cancels earlier verses that seem to promote only tolerance. Verse five unveils Muhammad’s violent policy against polytheists. They either convert or die or leave. 9:5 Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. (Pickthall) So there is compulsion in Islam, after all, which contradicts the earlier Sura 2:256. Second, you say that "events" (presumably acts of violence, especially on September 11) are completely forbidden in Islam. However, your prophet commissions his followers to wage war on Jews and Christians or the People of the Book or Scripture (= Bible). Sura 9:29 says: Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued (Hilali and Khan, insertions in parentheses are theirs) This verse that commands battle is all about theology and practice. It says nothing explicit about a real and physical harm done to Islam. Muhammad launched his Tabuk Crusade in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his huge number of jihadists returned home (so says Western scholarship), but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews. They had three options: (1) fight and die; (2) convert to Islam; (3) or submit and pay the second-class-citizen jizya tax for the "privilege" of living under Islam.

Mr. al-Buthi, the direct connection between terrorist acts today and many violent verses in the Quran is unclear to me. However, I understand how violent radicals appeal to these and many other such verses, especially in Sura 9, to justify their attacks. (5) For your Point d, you write: d. You believe as I do that our Creator is wise, generous and all-knowing. It is He, we all believe, who is providing us with every thing that we need for the maintenance of our biological life. But the Creator knows that it is more in virtue of our souls than our bodies, that we are the human beings we are. He would not therefore neglect to provide us with what we need for the welfare of our souls. This is why He has been sending messengers to us to convey messages from Him that give us guidance on how to lead a life acceptable to Him, and leading such a life makes us happy. When God sends a message He must ensure that it be available to all who are interested in it and that it be understood by them. Where is this message now? Muslims are the only people who even claim that they are in possession of such a message. They have historical evidence that the Qur’an that they are now reading is the same precise words that were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Neither the Jews nor the Christians can make such a claim, a fact that some biblical scholars admit. If I understand this point correctly, you essentially claim four things. For clarity I label them with letters. (A) You say that the Creator looks out for the welfare of our souls, so he would send us a message that provides guidance; (B) "Muslims are the only people who even claim they are in possession of such a message"; (C) "historical evidence" indicates that "the Quran that [Muslims] are now reading is the same precise words that were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad"; and (D) "neither the Jews or Christians can make such a claim" . . . . (A) As for your first claim, I have no quarrel that the Creator cares for our souls, but based on the list in my first reply, I don’t believe that the Quran contains entirely that caring and loving message, which "makes us happy" (your words). Let me boil it down in modus tollens (denying the "then" clause), in an if-then argument: To judge from the list of practical policies and legal decrees taken from the Quran itself in part (1) of my reply, above: (1) If the Quran is God’s final message to us, then he must want to abuse us physically, and he hates us. (2) But God does not want to abuse us physically, and he loves us. (3) Therefore, the Quran is not God’s final message to us. (B) You say that Muslims are the only people who believe that they have a message of love and welfare. Though I am neither a Sikh nor a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon), these two religions have holy books that appear long after the Quran. Nanak, founder of Sikhism, and his successors have the Guru Granth Sahib. And Joseph Smith has the Book of Mormons, believed to be brought down by an angel, as well as the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine of Covenants. They believe that God cares for them so much that he sent them their messages or holy books. Also, Christians believe that the New Testament offers the true message of God in a way that the Quran does not. Thus, Muslims are not the "only people who even claim that they are in possession of such a message" of love and welfare from God.

(C) Does "historical evidence" say that the Quran today really is "the same precise words that were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad"? I already cited four reasons in Part Two why this is not true, though Muslims are taught this from childhood. I repeat some of the reasons here since our multipart dialogue is so long. Starting off, this hadith (or sacred tradition) from Bukhari (a highly reliable collector and editor of hadith) says that Uthman ordered that different versions of the Quran be burned, throughout the Islamic empire. . . . ‘Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. (Bukhari) It is one thing to prepare the final version (if one exists of the Quran), but burning alternate versions? He destroyed a rich textual history that the New Testament enjoys. Now scholars cannot cross-check these fragments and manuscripts to establish whether the present-day Quran is the right one. Next, this is an interesting modern discovery: a "buried" version of the Quran, found in 1972, during the restoration of the Great Mosque of Sana’a, in Yemen. Since the early 1980s more than 15,000 sheets of the Yemeni Korans have painstakingly been flattened, cleaned, treated, sorted, and assembled; they now sit ("preserved for another thousand years," Puin says) in Yemen's House of Manuscripts, awaiting detailed examination. That is something the Yemeni authorities have seemed reluctant to allow, however. "They want to keep this thing low-profile, as we do too, although for different reasons," Puin explains. "They don't want attention drawn to the fact that there are Germans and others working on the Korans. They don't want it made public that there is work being done at all, since the Muslim position is that everything that needs to be said about the Koran's history was said a thousand years ago." (Source) I asked in Part Two: "Why won’t the authorities allow its publication? What are they hiding?" These questions still stand. The third and final example comes from the reliable hadith collection Sahih Muslim, which says that an entire sura, having over a hundred verses, is missing from the Quran. . . . We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara'at [Sura 9, which has 129 verses]. I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it: "If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of Adam, he would long for a third valley, and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of Adam but dust." (Muslim no. 2286; see the four hadiths above this one) Please see this webpage that has many links to articles and hadiths on the corruption of the Quran. (D) As for the fourth sub-point, you again challenge the reliability of the New Testament. (I forego a discussion on the Old Testament, though its manuscript traditions are first rate.) It must be admitted—and no reputable scholar attempts to hide the fact—that the manuscripts that make up the New Testament have traveled through time. Therefore, they have received

some light bumps and bruises, so to speak (and so do all ancient texts, including the Quran). However, there are thousands of manuscripts, ranging from fragments to partial and to complete books or sections and the entire New Testament. This means that qualified scholars can cross-check and compare them and eliminate any scribal and incidental errors. Thus, these slight historical, textual "wounds" have not altered the essential message of the Four Gospel and the rest of the New Testament. This means, in turn, that the following assessment of these scholars reflects textual reality. I again quote from Part Two, which has more information: The overwhelming majority of the text of the Greek New Testament is firmly established. Where uncertainties remain, in no case is any doctrinal matter at issue. (D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. Zondervan, 2005, p. 30) The New Testament manuscripts far outnumber other manuscript traditions of ancient texts, and the chronological gap between the New Testament manuscripts and the events themselves and original writings is much, much shorter. This short article has a comparative Table. Open Letter to Congress (continued): Reform As with all civilizations, there are periods of flowering and also decay. Two centuries ago, when America was in its infancy, the peoples of Arabia had fallen back into the paganism, ignorance, superstition, illiteracy, and societal oppression – conditions that were quite similar to the pre-Islamic days. At that time a religious scholar, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab (d. 1762), began the task of religious and societal reform. His main message was that God alone should be worshipped and that Muslims should return to the teachings and practice of the Prophet Muhammad. He was joined in this task by Muhammad Ibn Sa‘ud (d. 1765); with these events, the essential concepts underlying the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was born. The modern Saudi state was actually formed some one hundred years after Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab’s death. The leading scholars of the Muslim world agreed to the custodianship of the Holy Places of Mecca and Medina by the Saudi state and to the soundness of the religious doctrines on which this state is based. For this reason "Wahhabism" is not a sect outside of main body of Islam; rather, it is merely a reform movement that has been recognized by the majority of Muslims. JA: I have two questions: 1. You briefly recount the origins of your reform movement. What did the Wahhabi reform movement do to the Shi’ites and their shrines in Kerbala in 1802? SaB: The "monotheists" were responsible for the destruction of the domes (graves) in Kerbala and Najaf. They took this action because the domes constituted "shirk" and thus were contrary to sharia, not because they belonged to the Shiites. The monotheists also destroyed many similar symbols of shirk at a number of different sites on the Arabian Peninsula.

2. You say that "the essential concepts underlying the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were born" with the Wahhabi reforms. What are the historical reasons for the image of a sword sitting on the flag of Saudi Arabia? SaB: First, the flag is officially described as, "Flag, green background, with in white letters the Muslim creed in Arabic: ’There is no god but God: Muhammad is the Messenger of God.’ Emblem, a date palm, representing vitality and growth, and two crossed swords, symbolizing justice and strength rooted in faith." Second, there is no mention of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab or his particular movement in the Saudi flag or our national symbols. Although some in the West are fixated on this one scholar, we view him as simply one scholar from among a constellation of scholars who helped us to understand our religion. Third, the sword symbolizes the steadfast character of us as a people, justice, strength and unity. It is not about anger or being a "Wahhabi". JA: I have only two comments on this part. (1) One of the purposes of your Open Letter is to show that Wahhabism is kinder and gentler than popular opinion (wrongly) believes. In fact, you do not like the label. You are simply Sunni Muslims who adhere strictly to the Quran and the proper teachings of Islam, especially in the Sunnah. However, destroying shrines belies your efforts to present a better version of your Islamic monotheism. Let’s assume that some Muslim devotees who appeared at the shrines indeed practiced some form of shirk (associating anything with Allah). Then religious freedom is still better than repression, regardless of what an ancient sharia rule may decree, written centuries ago. Next, you say that the destruction of the shrines was "not because they belonged to the Shiites." However, James Wynbrandt in A Brief History of Saudi Arabia (Checkmark Books, 2004), p. 135, says that humans, the Shi’ites, were slaughtered along with the destruction of their shrines. With peace prevailing along the border between the Hijaz and Najd, in 1801-02 . . . [In] March 1802 . . . Karbala’s citizens were slaughtered and its sacred places destroyed, including the great dome of Husayn. Normally, it would be only fair to point out early American abuses (read about the Trail of Tears, here, in which the government forcibly removed an Indian tribe in the early nineteenth century). But this short news report in 2001 connects the Saudi government to the Taliban’s destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan. So the intolerance continues to today, throughout the Islamic world, not just in or near Saudi Arabia.

Here is the hard-learned lesson of history in the West. A few Christian reformers in the sixteenth century sometimes destroyed things in their zeal, but now this is generally viewed as misguided. If a Christian performed a ritual that a zealous reformer did not like, such as praying to or burning incense before a statue of a saint, then the reformer should have let freedom reign, however much he may have disliked the ritual. He should not have destroyed the statue nor harass the devotee. The ritual does not harm anyone else physically or materially. The zealous reformer may proclaim by words alone his version of Christianity and godly purity, but he should not destroy things or whip or imprison people for (perceived) violations of religious rituals or theology. Further, after the early puritans crossed the Atlantic and reached the shores of America in the seventeenth century, they were sometimes intolerant. They physically punished people who sinned. They forced external holiness and conformity on to people. Eventually, however, the Founders of our nation took a more tolerant path in the eighteenth century. People are now allowed to worship as they want. Thus, the Founders progressed. They showed wisdom. They were right. If Saudi Arabia is compatible with modernity, as you say in your Open Letter, then is not religious freedom essential? Is this not true, no matter how distasteful the rituals performed by another Muslim or a member of another religion may be, according to a strict Muslim purist? If you distrust the West about its "hard-learned lesson" on religious freedom, then do not be surprised if the West distrusts your Open Letter to a western government when the Letter says that Saudi Arabia is compatible with modernity. Fortunately, this report says that the Saudi government may be relaxing its opposition to Sufism after September 11. But before that date: When the al-Saud family that would later come to rule Saudi Arabia took over Hejaz [western region] in the 1920s, the Wahhabis banned mawlids [celebrations of birth and life of Muhammad] as a form of heresy and destroyed the historic shrines of Khadija, Fatima and the prophet's companions, fearing they would lead to idolatry and polytheism. The article shows a photo of Salman al-Odah, a strict and popular Saudi cleric (according to the report), accepting an invitation from Sufi cleric Abdallah Fadaaq. Expanding tolerance is a positive development. But will this expansion include other Muslim sects and even other religions? (2) As for the Islamic confession of faith (the Shahadah) and the sword sitting on your flag, I thought of this hadith from Sahih Bukhari. It says that the prophet of Islam has been ordered to fight (= the sword on the flag?) until people acknowledge that Allah is the right deity and Muhammad is his messenger (= the Shahadah on the flag?). The people must also give the messenger their money. If they do these things, then their lives and property are kept safe. Allah's Apostle said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah." (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here)

Does this hadith and its parallel, plus Suras 9:5 and 9:29 (quoted above), capture the essence of the words and the sword on the flag? Conclusion Mr. al-Buthi, let’s step back and look at the big picture seen in the overarching mission of Jesus and Muhammad. I choose this topic to conclude with, because you believe that Islam presents the message of Jesus as it "truly was." You assert in your Open Letter to Congress that Muhammad was called to lead people towards a new law that superceded the paganism of Arabia in the seventh century. Implied in this belief is that he was another lawgiver, like Moses (except your prophet’s laws are fuller and more complete). He intended to establish a new order here on earth. In contrast, it is often believed among Muslims that Jesus was a spiritual leader whose kingdom was not of this earth. He was not a new lawgiver. He was "heavenly minded." In reply, however, the more I study Islam, the happier I am that Jesus never made specific pronouncements, such as "Cut off the hands of thieves! Divide the inheritance to give men a double portion over that of women! Women’s testimony counts half of men’s! Whip sexual sinners one hundred times! Husbands may hit their wife or wives! Crucify highway robbers! Cut off the alternate hand and foot of highway robbers! I shall fight you until you acknowledge me as Lord, pray my way, and give me a ‘charity’ tax! My harsh decrees will make you happy, in the end! If only you could see this!" His silence on such legal decrees and violent policies does not imply that we should interpret his message in dubious ways, for that would violate his entire ministry. He honored and gave dignity to people, especially to sinners. But he loved them too much to leave them unchanged from the inside out. Rather, his silence means that we can use our sound reason to figure things out, such as how to divide an inheritance, or why women’s testimony counts equally as men’s testimony. Nor, especially, do we need revelations in a culture-bound holy book that command that we should carry out these harsh decrees and laws. Mr. al-Buthi, you and millions of Muslims believe that the Quran is the final revelation to all of humanity, but I disagree. For me, down-to-earth reality in the messages and practices of Jesus and Muhammad breaks the deadlock between the competing abstract claims and doctrines of Christianity and Islam. Some of Christ’s positive pronouncements and policies have been explored here and here; as noted, for Christians he fulfills the severe commands in the Old Testament, so Muslim apologists no longer need to cite them to score polemical points. Continue with Part Four.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (4)

By way of reminder, Soliman al-Buthe (or al-Buthi) wrote an Open Letter to Congress in 2005. Then he initiated a dialogue with me, so we decided on this sequence. 1. In 2005, I commented and asked questions about the Open Letter (in blue). 2. In that same year, months later, Mr. al-Buthe answered my questions and challenged me on various issues (in green). He sought the advice of Saudi scholars, as well. 3. Finally, in 2006, I reply to his challenges and questions (in black). Sometimes I embed this part in our 2005 dialogue. I too receive help from colleagues. 2005 Open Letter to Congress (continued): Compatibility with Modernity Like all developing nations, Saudi Arabia faces many challenges. We have social, economic, and political issues that need to be addressed. Our religious teachings, however, are not against modernity, progress, or development. Rather, this religious movement has led to a general renaissance in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic world as a whole. In just 70 years, Saudi Arabia has developed a nationwide education system consisting of eight universities, 100 colleges, and 26,000 schools that provide free education to over 5,000,000 students. The teacher-student ratio of 1:12.5 is among the lowest in the world, with over one quarter of the annual state budget allocated to education. There are currently 320 hospitals in the Kingdom consisting of 46,048 beds. In the face of these facts it is difficult to understand how our religious beliefs could possibly be inherently anti-progress and anti-modernity. Although we have much to improve, the achievements of the Kingdom thus far demonstrate that a modern society can be built upon core teachings and that progress is not hindered by an adherence to Islamic law. JA: My sincere congratulations on the development of your schools, colleges, and universities, and especially the number of hospitals. This seems positive. 1. Do you know which percentage of students specialize in religious education, such as Islamic Studies, at the universities? Is it thirty percent? SaB: I have not been able to find any official statistics on this matter. We do not teach purely religious studies in the narrow sense of the word even in our "Islamic universities." These universities offer courses on all the social sciences, on computer science, on foreign languages like English, and so on. Remember, however, that we are not a secular country. Because our religion forms the basis of our life, we teach it in schools and offer courses on it even to students who specialize in disciplines like medicine and engineering. If you are asking this question because you believe in the myth of the linkage between terrorism and Islamic studies, we refer you to the recent article "The Myth of the Madrassa" written by Peter Bergen and Swati Pabdey. (Please see The Myth of the Madrassa.)

JA: The reason I ask about the percentage of students who choose Islamic Studies or other religious majors is the high unemployment and crime rates in your country. John R. Bradbury worked as a journalist in Saudi Arabia for more than two years, writing for various western publications. In his book, Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis, he provides statistics for the rise. He writes: The statistics available are breathtaking. A 2003 report by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, for example, said that crime among young jobless Saudis rose 320 percent between 1990 and 1996, and is expected to increase an additional 136 percent by 2005. More than 60 percent of Saudis are under 21, and the kingdom’s population growth rate is roughly 4 percent—one of the highest in the world . . . . (p. 142) Thus, the crime rate increases, despite the harsh punishments your legal system regularly metes out, such as chopping off heads. Bradbury recounts some episodes of public beheadings. In 2003, for example, more than 50 took place for everyone to see (p. 144). Academic programs covering economics and the social sciences may help the problem of crime. I read, above, and elsewhere that you have such programs, so this is good. We have invited a friend and colleague, originally from Saudi Arabia, to review my response. He adds this to our dialogue: The Saudi Government will allow westerners who are converts to attend the Islamic University in Mecca or Medina to earn a degree for Islamic studies. The only reason they allow them to do so is to help them become Imams and to use them to convert others to Islam. They would have never allowed any westerner who is not Muslim to attend these Islamic universities because they are in holy places / cities and only Muslims are allowed access to these places. These days, from my conversations with my family and friends, the Saudi government is not allowing any non-Saudis to attend their universities, period. They may have some very few exceptions - but never for medicine or engineering. This process is part of what the government of Saudi Arabia calls the Saudization. Also, non-Saudis, even if they are Muslims, are not allowed to own any property (e.g. land or homes) or businesses. They must have the property or the business in a Saudi partner’s name, who is called a sponsor. The point that this Saudi is making, I believe, is that his nation closes the door on an even exchange of ideas, to help solve his nation’s problems. America and other free societies invite and give permission to hundreds of thousands of students from all countries, cultures and religions to come and study in their universities, often even providing grants and scholarships for them. It allows fair partnership in businesses with foreigners. Why is Saudi Arabia closing itself off from the free and even exchange of ideas and partnership in business? As for the Madrassas and violence, please click on this report, which balances out your positive link. JA: 2. One of the hallmarks of modernity and progress is women’s freedom. Why are not Saudi women allowed to drive cars and to vote? SaB:

What is modernity? And what is freedom? Take "modernity," a very vague term. Your references suggest that it merely is the state of being modern. But what does it mean to be modern? Apparently "modernity" means whatever happens to be currently popular in the West. The West is modern in many disparate ways. To be "modern" in this sense would require every non-Western society to abandon its culture and live in a constant state of imitation of changing Western norms. We are emphatically against this wholesale adoption of Western modernity as it relates to a promiscuous freedom. We believe that we have much that is good by any rational and moral standards, and we are therefore keen not only to preserve it but also to invite others to it. But at the same time we believe that there is much worldly good in the West, and we are keen to derive benefits from that good. This applies especially to science and technology and anything that helps us to advance in these respects. We do not, however, share Westerners’ current beliefs -- religious orsecular – and strongly oppose many of the West’s prevailing values. Thus we think that there is a significant difference between "modernity" in general and religious/moral modernity. We have shopping malls of chrome and glass and the latest technology; we all use mobile phones which are actually more advanced than those in the West; we drive cars, eat in restaurants, drive through fast food outlets, get our cash from ATMs, and all have computers, satellite televisions, and Bluetooth-enabled devices. Thus we reject the notion that we must do something simply because it happens to be Westerners’ current prevailing cultural prejudice. We are simply not impressed by being told that something is one of the hallmarks of modernity as the West does in the following examples. We evaluate things by being true or false, useful or harmful, suitable or not suitable, and not just because the West counts them among the hallmarks of your modernity. JA: I am confused about something. You say in your Open Letter, which you initiated to the American Congress, that Saudi Arabia is compatible with modernity (your word). Then, when I bring up the word "modernity," you talk about "cultural prejudice" and the "wholesale adoption of Western modernity as it relates to a promiscuous freedom." No one said anything about adopting the extremes or the vices in the West. I agree that the West has gone too far in that regard. But can you not see that Saudi Arabia has let the pendulum swing too far to the other extreme—to the far side of repression, such as executing or flogging or imprisoning sexual sinners (read about this excess here and here)? SaB: One of the primary aims of Islam is the welfare of the family. Being good to one’s parents is mentioned in the Qur’an as second only to worshipping God: Qur’an 004:36-38 "And worship God. Ascribe no thing as partner to Him. (Show) kindness to parents, and to near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and into the neighbor who is of kin (to you) and the neighbor who is not of kin and the fellow traveler and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! God loves not such as are proud and boastful, who hoard their wealth and enjoin avarice on others, and hide that which God has bestowed upon them of His bounty. For disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom; and (also)

those who spend their wealth in order to be seen of men, and believe not in God nor the Last Day. Whoever takes Satan for a comrade, a bad comrade has he." To protect the family Islam prohibits all kinds of extra-marital sexual relations and has severe punishment for those who commit adultery and fornication. As a consequence, free mixing between men and women is not encouraged. Today some of our learned men thought that it would be advisable for women not to drive cars as this would tempt women to mix easily with men and vice versa. Thus the prohibition on women driving was seen as a precautionary matter; none of the learned men said that it was religiously forbidden for women to drive cars (please see Karen Hughes Driving Saudi Arabia – U.S. Relationship). The issue of women driving was never seen in our society as depriving women of a right; this is evidenced by the fact that few Saudi women even want to drive. In the end, this question is all a matter of what is beneficial and what is not in the light of the principles in which Muslim men and women believe. JA: You report that the reason for prohibiting women from driving cars is to separate the sexes because they may commit sexual sin and be severely punished. In Part Two I have already noted that homosexuality takes place in your country, so how does one fix that problem? By forbidding men from driving? I am not being facetious. It seems that the reason offered by the religious scholars for prohibiting women does not work entirely. It is a sad fact that humans will commit sexual sin, no matter how much they are smothered by rules and religious police. Bradbury reports in his book (cited above) that the separation of the sexes creates the (unintended) backlash of men seeking comfort and sexual gratification from other men, and women from other women. So malls in Jeddah, as well as in Riyadh and Dammam, have predictably become the preferred haunts of another group: male seeking sex with other males. Unlike the boys and girls seeking to mix, they do not have to hide their intentions. Indeed, they stroll certain of the malls and supermarkets openly making passes at each other. They are dressed in variations on Western fashion that would, in America, be considered outrageously queer, but in Saudi Arabia raise eyebrows only among those who insist on "Islamic"—that is, Bedouin—dress at all times. These young men openly cruise, often exchanging comments in loud voices with their friends when a desirable object comes into view. (p. 154) Additionally, Bradbury reports that gay websites have exploded: The number of gay-themed Saudi websites especially has exploded in recent years. Some of these sites are blocked by those responsible for censoring the Internet, but software to avoid the blocks is easily purchased in local markets. Most sites exist for one reason only: to facilitate meet-ups. Even gay pornography is freely available to anyone who has a satellite dish in their bedroom, which is to say all middle-class Saudi boys. (p. 155). He goes on to report that lesbians also seek their own encounters and can easily do so because of the segregation of the sexes (pp. 162-65). To return to the specific issue of driving, why do women have to be restricted from this privilege completely? Why not permit the women who want to drive to enjoy this privilege at least one day a week? There is a middle ground somewhere.

Next, it may be true that "few Saudi women even want to drive." But here are the few. This news report by Faiza Saleh Ambah offers these few a voice. Did Karen Hughes meet with them? Inside a rented hall on the outskirts of the Saudi capital, women slip on T-shirts over their silk and cotton blouses. "Yes to the empowerment of women," it reads. Nov. 6, 1990, is printed in red under tire tracks. About 20 women have gathered privately here for their annual reunion to mark their defiance 15 years ago of this conservative kingdom's ban on female drivers. Spurred by the Gulf War and the sight of female American GIs driving in Saudi Arabia, the group took to the road. They traveled the streets of Riyadh before being surrounded by curious onlookers and stopped by traffic cops, who took them into custody. They were released only after their male guardians signed statements that they would not drive again. The women, many of whom are professors, had been prepared for a reprimand from the government, even some jail time. But it was the reaction of their students, their extended families, and many acquaintances that surprised them. After the protest, thousands of leaflets with their names and their husbands' names - with "whores" and "pimps" scrawled next to them - circulated around the city. They were suspended from jobs, had passports confiscated, and were told not to speak to the press. Overnight, they became pariahs. About a year after the protest, they returned to work and received their passports. But they were kept under surveillance and passed over for promotions. But now, due to the courage of one member of Saudi Arabia's consultative Shura Council, a new reform-minded king, and a society forced into open debate following violence linked to Muslim extremists, the subject is once again taking center stage. And the women have decided to break their silence. The report continues by saying that most Saudi women view driving as an imitation of the decadent West. Again, this opinion lets the pendulum swing too far to the other extreme of suppression. Here is a very short excerpt from an interview with a member of the Saudi Shura Council Muhammad Aal Zulfa, which aired on Al-'Arabiya TV on June 8, 2005. He would let his wife and daughter drive. To wrap up this part of my reply, humans of both sexes need freedom. This article says that Bahrain, an island and independent state that is connected to Saudi Arabia by a bridge, provides a "breathing lung" for Saudis because this Islamic island allows people to do as they want. The words "breathing lung" mean that Saudi Arabia suffocates people. On the weekends an average of 40,000 cars line up to cross the bridge. Surely there is a middle path between decadence and repression of freedom.

SaB: As to voting, it was never the practice in our society to resort to voting for choosing our leaders. Over the years we have been very contented with the manner in which our leaders have been chosen. Now that voting has been adopted on a limited level, no one here is saying that there is something in Islam which allows men but not women to vote; indeed, many of our officials are saying that this restriction was only a matter of convenience because of the additional infrastructure that would be required. Many believe that this restriction will be lifted in the future, and perhaps in the very near future. (How many years were American women denied the right to vote? How many years were American Blacks denied the right to vote?) JA: My comment here is brief, coming in three parts. First, I am encouraged about your statement that there is nothing in Islam which "allows men but not women to vote." But I am unclear about the "infrastructure that would be required." I hope it gets ready for the next elections. Second, it is true that for many decades America did not allow women to vote, but we have corrected the problem at the beginning of the twentieth century, passing the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, which opened the door to this basic right. Our nation was one of the first. France did not open the voting booth to women until after the Second World War. Third, it is true, sadly, that black Americans were disenfranchised. But we have corrected the problem with the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The world awaits Saudi Arabia to correct its own problems. This is why, as noted in my first point in this section, that I am encouraged by your words: "Many believe that this restriction will be lifted in the future, and perhaps in the very near future." I hope such freedom happens soon, in the near future. I believe, from a simple study of history, that it is impossible to smother freedom in the human heart. Eventually freedom will break out of any cage. Therefore, it is better, don’t you think, to go with the flow of freedom without adopting the extreme of promiscuity and licentiousness? JA 3. One of the hallmarks of modernity and progress is an appreciation of science. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz became Chancellor of the Islamic University of Medina in 1968. In 1974, he was appointed president of the Directorate of Religious Research, Islamic Legal Rulings, Islamic Propagation, and Guidance. This prominent cleric, when he was ViceChancellor of the Islamic University of Medina, published an article in two newspapers in 1966. In them he claimed that the Qur’an proves that the sun orbits around the earth and not that the earth orbits around the sun. First, do you know whether he published this article? Second, does his view reflect the view of many conservative Saudis? SaB: First, Islam has no problem with science; it was in the Muslim world that science first flourished, and it was upon that basis that Europeans built their science. Second, the Sheikh did not mention anything about orbiting. He was only criticizing the belief that the sun is stationary because there is a verse in the Qur’an which says that it "runs." We now know that the whole solar system moves around the Galaxy and that the Galaxy itself is traveling through space. Sheikh Abd-Aziz Ibn Baz was not a scientist, and he

did not claim the doctrinal infallibility of a pope; he was simply expressing a view in which he honestly believed. Although he was a great religious teacher, Islam recognizes that no man can have the infallibility popes still today claim. Accordingly, Ibn Baz could not force his view on all Muslims – he didn't even think about trying to start an inquisition against the many who differed with him. In the face of Ibn Baz’s statement, what should we Muslims have done – prevented him from expressing a view simply because we believed it erroneous? Addressing the Western theologians’ problems with science, many Christian scholars today emphatically oppose Darwinism and believe that creationism should be taught in school. (Indeed, your President Bush advocates teaching "Intelligent Design" – a poor cousin of creationism – in public schools!) How should those people be answered? Third, our Sheikhs are only learned Islamic scholars; they are not popes whose words on religious topics become part of the religion. The Islamic religion is based on two sources only: the Qur’an and the Sunna (words and deeds of the Prophet). Fourth, George Washington is said to have been one of those who believed that the earth is flat (please see Flat Earth Society & The Flat Out Truth). But famous Muslim scholars like Ibn Hazm and Ibn Taymiya who lived centuries before him knew that the earth is spherical. JA: My comments come in three numbered points. I omit a discussion of your third reply, though I allude to it in my point no. two and my discussion of Christianity today. (1) For your first point you say: First, Islam has no problem with science; it was in the Muslim world that science first flourished, and it was upon that basis that Europeans built their science. This is a common belief in the Muslim world, and even some Westerners perpetuate it. But it needs to be balanced out. Alvin J. Schmidt, in The Great Divide (Regina Orthodox Press, 2004), pp. 200-01, summarizes his findings in Chapter 8, which covers science. He corrects two popular misconceptions: the West is heavily indebted to Islam; and the church always stood in the way of scientific advancement. Starting off, he concedes that some noteworthy natural philosophers (pre-scientists) lived in the Islamic empire. But they stand on the shoulders of Greeks, who were not completely wrong about some things. Although Islam produced some noteworthy natural philosophers among the Arabs [Avicenna (980-1037); Averroes (1126-1198); Jabir Ibn Hayyan (c. 760-815); al-Kindi (813-880); and al-Razi, (c. 865-925)], they never attained the intellectual stature of the Greeks . . . In the words of one historian of science, "The legacy of the Islamic world in medicine and natural science is the legacy of Greece, increased by many additions, mostly practical" . . . . Then Schmidt points out that the science we know today began in the thirteenth century, long after science stalled under Islam. Also, it was the church that was a major patron of scientific learning.

It also needs to be noted that although Islam’s natural philosophers produced some noteworthy works in physiology and medicine from about the ninth through the 11th century, Islamic medicine and science came to a standstill, about 1100 . . . . It was Christianity, not Islam, which provided the necessary presupposition, the motivation, and the men who launched modern science. Thus, from the 13th century on, Islam’s influence in science, if one can call it science [because the inductive method, on which science so heavily depends, rises in the 13th century], in contrast to Christianity’s influence, has been conspicuously lagging. In support of this claim, Lindberg in his The Beginning of Western Science (1992), says that in regard to the study of nature, "the church was one of the major patrons—perhaps the major patron—of scientific learning." Schmidt ends with a short list of groundbreaking western discoveries fostered by Christianity, and bypassing Islam that seems to have bogged down in an exclusive search for religious truth and that seems largely to have ignored scientific truth. Western science was not built on the basis of Islamic "science," a misnomer in the first place, because, as noted, science did not really begin until the thirteenth century. Before then, it may be called a "proto-science," which is built on Greek "proto-science." Finally, it is well to remember that Muslims discovered no scientific laws, such as Kepler’s three laws in astronomy, Newton’s law of gravity, Pascal’s law of liquid measure, Ohm’s law in the field of electricity, Boyle’s law in chemistry, Kelvin’s absolute zero, Faraday’s electromagnetic induction, Dalton’s atomic weight, Lavoisier’s law of conservation of energy, or Mendel’s law pertaining to heredity. Nor did any Muslim discover bacteria, introduce chloroform, inoculate against disease, discover circulation of the blood, introduce antiseptics, or encourage the dissecting of human cadavers. These and other great moments in science were by-products of Christianity’s influence, all outside of the context of any Islamic influence and motivation . . . . Finally, the next scholar, after quoting Westerners who put down their own western intellectual history and who exalt Islamic intellectual history to high heaven, clarifies matters. He says that Muslims translated insignificant ancient texts and that Christendom already had the important ones. He says in the fourth paragraph, below, that Islam was caught up in Neoplatonism, a poor reflection of Plato, and what philosophy did exist in Islam rose higher than the Quran. So Islamic philosophers Avicenna and Averroes believed. So the great rescue of Greek philosophy by translation into Arabic turns out to mean no rescue of Plato and the transmission of Latin translations of Arabic translations of Greek texts of Aristotle, either directly or more often via Syriac or Hebrew, to a Christendom that already had the Greek texts and had already translated most of them into Latin, with almost all of the work of translation from any of these languages into any other having been done by Christians and Jews and none of it by Muslims. But if Islamic scholars did not actually translate ancient Greece’s natural philosophy from Greek into Arabic and from Arabic into Latin, did not actually rescue Plato and Aristotle from oblivion, and did not actually ignite the Renaissance with them, didn’t they create a vibrant and superior philosophy? Were not Avicenna and Averroes great? Great they were, and philosophers too, but not exactly Islamic ones.

Islamic philosophy is a misnomer; at least, what we in the West think of as Islamic philosophy is. It is not Islamic in the sense of being rooted in Islam or even in the weaker sense of being melded to it. It is based rather on those vaunted translations from Greek and has a higher allegiance to Neoplatonism than to Islam. It considered philosophy the highest expression of truth, available only to the wisest, and Islam a lower expression suitable for the masses. It believed that the Koran is temporal, not eternal, and that God knows only universals, not particulars. In short, it was in opposition to what we and most Muslims think of as Islam. (Source, emphasis original; this article also cites Westerners putting down their own tradition and exalting Islam. But the article also balances out the picture) (2) In your second point you write: Second, the Sheikh did not mention anything about orbiting. He was only criticizing the belief that the sun is stationary because there is a verse in the Qur’an which says that it "runs." We now know that the whole solar system moves around the Galaxy and that the Galaxy itself is traveling through space. Sheikh Abd-Aziz Ibn Baz was not a scientist, and he did not claim the doctrinal infallibility of a pope; he was simply expressing a view in which he honestly believed. I have not read Sheikh Ibn Baz’s article, but this is an excerpt taken from Sandra Mackey, The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom, updated edition (Norton, 2002), p. 98. Her book is generally sympathetic of your country. In an essay written to refute the heresy of the theory of the solar system taught at Riyadh University, [Ibn] Baz said: Hence I say the Holy Koran, the Prophet’s teaching, the majority of Islamic scientists, and the actual fact prove that the sun is running in its orbit, as Almighty God ordained, and that the earth is fixed and stable, spread out by God for his mankind and made a bed and cradle for them, fixed down firmly by mountains, lest it shake. This quotation does discuss the sun orbiting. It also says that the earth is fixed, so it is difficult to understand how your explanation of the sun and its system moving in the galaxy works, unless the moving solar system leaves the stationary earth behind. Perhaps the Sheikh was referring to a revelation in the Quran that says that the sun sets in a muddy spring. One of God’s servants of long ago actually witnessed this, says the Islamic holy book. Sura (Chapter) 18:86 says: . . . When he reached the setting-place of the sun, he [Dhu’l-Qarneyn] found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We [Allah] said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness. (Pickthall) This researcher quotes the hadiths and commentators: . . . All the scholars such as the Baydawi, Jalalan, and Zamakhshari confirm it. The Zamakhshari remarks in his book, "the Kash-shaf", "Abu Dharr (one of Muhammad’s close companions) was with Muhammad during the sunset. Muhammad asked him: ‘Do you know, O Abu Dharr where this sets?’ He answered: ‘God

and His apostle know better.’ Muhammad said: ‘It sets in a spring of slimy water"’ (3rd Edition, Volume 2 p. 743, 1987). In his book, "The Lights of Revelation" (p. 399), the Baydawi indicates, "The sun sets in a slimy spring; that is, a well which contains mud. Some of the readers of the Qur’an read it, ‘...a hot spring’, thus the spring combines the two descriptions. It was said that Ibn ’Abbas found Mu’awiya reading it (as) hot. He told him, ‘It is muddy.’ Mu’awiya sent to Ka’b al-Ahbar and asked him, ‘Where does the sun set?’ He said in water and mud and there were some people. So he agreed with the statement of ibn al-’Abbas. And there was a man who composed a few verses of poetry about the setting of the sun in the slimy spring." The Jalalan (p. 251) says that the setting of the sun is in a well which contains a murky mud. We found the same interpretation and text in the Tabari’s commentaries (p. 339) as well as in "Concise Interpretation of the Tabari" (p. 19 of part 2) in which he remarks that the well in which the sun sets "contains lime and murky mud". (Source) Thus, this revelation in Sura 18:86 does not describe a one-time miracle (cf. Joshua 10:1215). It seems to be treated as a scientific fact, as if the sun settles in slimy mud every day, which can be witnessed with our own eyes, after we walk to where the sun sets. Also, this goes far out and beyond your and your colleagues’ explanation that the solar system moves around in our galaxy. Still under your point two, you write: . . . Although [Sheikh Abd-Aziz Ibn Baz] was a great religious teacher, Islam recognizes that no man can have the infallibility popes still today claim. Accordingly, Ibn Baz could not force his view on all Muslims – he didn't even think about trying to start an inquisition against the many who differed with him. In the face of Ibn Baz’s statement, what should we Muslims have done – prevented him from expressing a view simply because we believed it erroneous? Specifically, you write that Ibn Baz "did not even think about trying to start an inquisition against many who differed with him." If I understand this comment, you may be implying that the popes started inquisitions, and this is worse than Ibn Baz’s beliefs. In reply, this is a common and mistaken strategy chosen by Muslim missionaries. They frequently reference misguided and violent events hundreds of years ago, and even a thousand years ago, that the church committed. However, Christians today do not engage in any inquisitions. Christians today do not see this entire era of church history as authoritative, as if we should bring forward all of its policies and practices in such matters. The church has reformed. That is, no Protestant pastor or Catholic priest today says we should attack Christians or atheists for holding views contrary to the Bible or church teachings, particularly not in scientific disputes. However, Islam persecutes and harasses nonconformist scholars often enough, today, not only a thousand or more years ago. Thus, no one demands, as you say in your last sentence in the excerpt, that Muslims should have prevented the Sheikh, highly positioned at an accredited university, from expressing his conservative views among many strict Quranbelieving Muslims or anyone else.

In any case, I am pleased to read your reply that says Saudi universities disagree with the Sheikh, who was highly positioned at an accredited and reputable university, and call his view erroneous. But the real problem lies with the Quran itself. Your final comment in your second point says: Addressing the Western theologians’ problems with science, many Christian scholars today emphatically oppose Darwinism and believe that creationism should be taught in school. (Indeed, your President Bush advocates teaching "Intelligent Design" – a poor cousin of creationism – in public schools!) How should those people be answered? I confess that your comment here disappoints me. This is one subject on which Christians and Muslims could work together. In any case, you call Intelligent Design "a poor cousin of creationism." Does this imply that creationism is the privileged first-born son? Do you prefer strict creationism? It seems that Intelligent Design can only help Islamic theology in the world of modern science, unless you hold to a literal six-day creation. Next, maybe a few Christian scholars want creationism taught in public schools, but most such scholars prefer that Intelligent Design should be taught alongside evolution, both as theories. This Jewish scholar, for example, who rejects Intelligent Design, says that it should still be taught in our schools: Of the many reasons why intelligent design – an argument I reject – ought to be taught alongside evolution in our public schools, perhaps none is more compelling than the ignorance and demagoguery which is evident in our current national debate over the issue. Below are four myths you frequently come across while reading the political literature on the subject, followed by the facts. (Source) Personally, I do not worry about the issue of teaching Intelligent Design in the public schools, one way or the other. For more challenges to science in the Quran, please go to this webpage. I especially recommend this scholar. The Saudi Christian adds: "It should be mentioned that all of the socalled scientific evidence in the Quran is based on visible evidence we can see with our own eyes, not on divine knowledge." This lengthy review of a debate between the scholar previously linked and a well-known Muslim speaker brings out this fact in more detail. (3) Finally, your fourth point says: Fourth, George Washington is said to have been one of those who believed that the earth is flat, but famous Muslim scholars like Ibn Hazm and Ibn Taymiya who lived centuries before him knew that the earth is spherical. In reply, it may be true that these two Muslim scholars knew that the earth is spherical, but this was widely known, long before Islam came on the scene. It was widely known [before Aristotle’s time in the fourth century BC] that the earth was spherical, for example from the shadow of the earth which is cast upon the surface of the moon during lunar eclipses . . . (Peter Whitfield, Landmarks in Western Science, Routledge, 1999, p. 33).

In fact, at least one Greek natural philosopher understood that the sun is the center of the cosmos. A particular fame however is attached to one of [the Hellenistic scientists], Aristarchus of Samos (flourished 280 BC), for his suggestion that the Sun and not the earth was the centre of cosmos . . . But in proposing a moving earth, Aristarchus was violating all accepted wisdom, and indeed the evidence of our own senses. (Whitfield, p. 42) As noted in my (long) first reply in this section, the Medieval church followed Aristotle too closely as he envisioned a geocentric universe. But other Greeks knew better, and eventually Copernicus in the sixteenth century broke away from the received tradition and supported a solar-centered universe. Also, there is a difference between George Washington and Sheikh Ibn Baz. The former was a general and the first President, who lived in the eighteenth century. The latter was an Islamic scholar, highly placed at a university and the religious hierarchy, who lived in the twentieth century and who had access to reports (if only auditory) about humans landing on the moon. He benefited from advances in astronomy and rocket science in a way that President Washington could not—assuming that he really did believe that the earth was flat. Finally, you link to information about the Flat Earth Society. We live in a free country, so people may put up any website or form any society that they want, without fear of harassment. But this society is not part of an accredited university or college or research lab recognized by anyone of reputation, nor is it a member of any respectable scientific community or organization. On the other hand, Sheikh Ibn Baz, as noted, was deeply entrenched in the religious establishment and in an accredited university in Saudi Arabia. See this quick biography about Ibn Baz, and this short entry on Salafi / Wahhabi literalism. Summary Mr. al-Buthi, I again quote two paragraphs from Bradbury’s book, cited above. This one describes the astronomical rise in crimes in the land of the Two Holy Mosques, where Islamic punishments are carried out physically and swiftly: The statistics available are breathtaking. A 2003 report by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, for example said that crime among young jobless Saudis rose 320 percent between 1990 and 1996, and is expected to increase an additional 136 percent by 2005. More than 60 percent of Saudis are under 21, and the kingdom’s population growth rate is roughly 4 percent—one of the highest in the world . . . . (p. 142) The next quotation describes how segregating the sexes leads to increased homosexual encounters: So malls in Jeddah, as well as in Riyadh and Dammam, have predictably become the preferred haunts of another group: male seeking sex with other males. Unlike the boys and girls seeking to mix, they do not have to hide their intentions. Indeed, they stroll certain of the malls and supermarkets openly making passes at each other. They are dressed in variations on Western fashion that would, in America, be considered outrageously queer, but in Saudi

Arabia raise eyebrows only among those who insist on "Islamic"—that is, Bedouin—dress at all times. These young men openly cruise, often exchanging comments in loud voices with their friends when a desirable object comes into view. (p. 154) What about the US? As for crime, this line graph on a short page at the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that violent crimes (e.g. homicide, rape, assaults, robbery) in America have decreased dramatically since 1994 to 2003. Next, this line graph, also found at the BJS, depicts a dramatic drop in property crime (burglary, theft, and car theft) from 1994, though the rate has leveled off since 2002. But what is the point of placing these two line graphs here? To boast that America has reached sinless perfection and has no room for improvement? No. Maybe the crime rate will increase (God forbid) in the next decade (or go down). The point is this: though many factors contribute to a drop in crime rates (or their rise), it is possible to see such a decrease without Islamic law. Other, less brutal, methods can be applied in order to lower crime and enhance the quality of life. As for the homosexual agenda, it is true that it is strong and vocal. But we have a political system that permits them to express themselves. They enjoy the right to form coalitions. How has repression stopped gays in Saudi Arabia? The authorities may have silenced their political voice (so far), but their practice? Repression has not stopped this, and never will. I frequently read Muslim missionary outreach websites that assert that Islam cures society’s ills and is much better than freedom in the West. We need Islamic law for our own good, even if we do not realize this or even if sharia is harsh and brutal. But this quick comparison of crime and of sexual preferences in Saudi Arabia and the US demonstrates that Islamic law is not necessarily superior. It does not solve problems as much as the outreach websites claim—not even close. Mr. Al-Buthi, if you believe that I am picking on your country and bringing up issues that are none of my business, then please note that you say that your country is compatible with modernity. Also, you initiated the dialogue, so you opened the door. To repeat, I am not saying that America has reached moral perfection. Instead, I am challenging the widespread belief that Islamic countries, even Saudi Arabia, are pure. Continue with Part Five.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (5)
Soliman al-Buthe (or al-Buthi) wrote an Open Letter to Congress in 2005. Then he initiated a dialogue with me, so we decided on this sequence. 1. In 2005, I commented and asked questions about the Open Letter (in blue).

2. In that same year, months later, Mr. al-Buthe answered my questions and challenged me on various issues (in green). He sought the advice of Saudi scholars, as well. 3. Finally, in 2006, I reply to his challenges and questions (in black). Sometimes I embed this part in our 2005 dialogue. I too receive help from colleagues. Open Letter to Congress (continued): Fundamentalism Defined Religious fundamentalism is not unique to Saudi Arabia; it is a worldwide phenomenon. Just as many Christians are turning to their religion for guidance in the modern world, likewise so do many Muslims. Although the distinction has been lost, Islamic fundamentalism no more equates with extremism or violence than does Christian or Jewish fundamentalism. The fundamentalist lives his life within the strictures of his religious laws, whereas the extremist transgresses them. If Christian fundamentalism is tolerated at the highest echelons of the US government, then it is hypocritical to attack that the fundamentalism of Saudi Arabia. Unlike some of the fundamentalist movements in the Christian world, Saudi fundamentalism is not based on a dispensationalist theology that seeks Armageddon, nor does it involve attacks on Jesus or Moses – both of whom Muslims revere and love. Today, millions of non-Muslims reside in the Kingdom where they live unmolested and are rewarded handsomely for the many services they provide. In stark contrast to the frequent claim that "Wahhabis" deny "non-Wahhabis" equality and justice, the government of Saudi Arabia affords all citizens their rights under the law. JA: I have seven questions or concerns: 1. One of the hallmarks of modernity is religious freedom. Does the Saudi government permit the Shi’ite minority in your country to publicly and openly commemorate Ashura, by which they honor the martyrdom of Hussein, Muhammad’s grandson? 2. Mosques flourish openly and publicly here in America. Why are not Christian churches allowed to flourish openly and publicly in Saudi Arabia? SaB: First, There is no, and there can be no absolute freedom of anything anywhere in the world. We all set limits to human freedom; the only difference is about the extent and nature of the limits. This depends on the nature of the political system. A secular political system does not allow religion to encroach upon what it deems to be the prerogative of secularism. Here are a few examples: a. "From military psychological-operations teams and CIA covert operatives to openly funded media and think tanks, Washington is plowing tens of millions of dollars into a campaign to influence not only Muslim societies but Islam itself." (Please see Hearts, Minds and Dollars, David E Kaplan). b. "[Former Alabama Chief Justice] Moore was suspended for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments monument after a federal court mandated him to have it taken

down. He faces several judicial ethics violation charges in a trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary on November 12." (please see Justices won't hear 10 Commandments appeals) [He was subsequently removed from office and is now threatening to run for governor of his state.] c. "When France's 577-member National Assembly approved the head-scarf ban last month, only 36 legislators voted against it. The margin was just as one-sided when the Senate gave it final approval Wednesday, 276-20. Top French officials, including President Jacques Chirac, have said the ban will help preserve France's secular national character. Even Germany's Green Party, for 20 years the best line of defense for immigrant communities there, is backing a head-scarf ban."(please see Matthew Schofield, Europe Battles Islam’s Rise, Via Headscarves). d. A day after a special meeting between Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Muslim leaders, Muslims who do not respect secularism and law were told Wednesday, August 24, to leave the country. (please see Anti-Secularism Muslims Told to Leave Australia) JA: You write in your Open Letter that "in stark contrast to the frequent claim that ‘Wahhabis’ deny ‘non-Wahhabis’ equality and justice, the government of Saudi Arabia affords all citizens their rights under the law." These words prompted my question about the religious freedom of the Shi’ites and their ritual of honoring Hussein’s death. Though you do not answer my question directly and specifically about their rights, you refer to the vague concept of "absolute freedom" and its limitations. Then you cite four examples (a-d) where freedom does not exist absolutely in the West. To begin my comment on your four examples measured against "absolute freedom," one reporter, John R. Bradbury, describes the repression of the Shi’ites from 1916-1928. They were "brutally suppressed by the Wahhabi forces backing Ibn Saud. It was an orgy of mass killing of mostly innocent victims, women and children. A staggering 7,000 people in Najran alone may have been put to the sword." Then in April 2000 "government-backed religious police stormed a major Ismaeli [a sect of Shia Islam] mosque, seized many of its religious texts, and arrested three clerics." Bradbury goes on to describe a secret meeting in the Eastern Province in which both Saudi and foreign Shi’ites met to mourn Hussein’s death. "In the past, hundreds were ‘caught’ observing such religious rites . . . They were arrested, and the foreigners among them were deported while Saudi Shiites faced jail terms and torture" (Source: Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside of Kingdom in Crisis; see Bradbury’s chapter "Shia Fear," pp. 73-85). In light of these examples of violent repression of Shia Muslims who may not agree with hyper-strict interpretation of Islam, we are now ready to contrast them with freedom in the West, even if it does not attain an "absolute freedom" (whatever that means). In your first example (a), you cite a report that says the CIA tries "to influence not only Muslim societies, but Islam itself." These reports about the mammoth CIA circulate around the domestic and world media. Millions in the Arab world believe that the CIA and Mossad (Israel’s secret service) planned the attack on September 11. If "Islam itself" is influenced by this agency, then how strong is this religion?

Further, Islamic lobbying organizations try to influence policy in the USA, the European Community, the United Nations, and elsewhere. The lobbies are given that freedom. So why should not non-Islamic organizations try to influence Islamic institutions and governments? One mark of freedom is that people of different convictions are allowed to (try to) influence people of other convictions. That is the competition of ideas. In fact, your very letter to Congress is an attempt to influence the American perception of Wahhabi Islam. Why should Americans not try to influence Muslim convictions? All of this is, however, a completely different issue from suppressing and oppressing people from celebrating their religious festivals like Saudi Arabia does to its Shiite minority. If Saudi Arabia would seek to convince the Shiites by verbal persuasion that they are wrong and Wahhabi Islam is true, nobody would object. What is reprehensible is that they are oppressed and threatened, even killed, when they try to celebrate their religious festivals. Your second example (b) is about Judge Moore who wanted to place the Ten Commandments on government property. His opponents argued (right or wrong) that this placement favored one religion over all the others, so this denied the equality of all religions. Moore’s actions, so his opponents argue, also violated the First Amendment’s "Establishment" clause (see below). It says that Congress (extended to include all levels of government, according to a broad interpretation) shall not establish any religion. Thus, Moore’s opponents wanted to protect all religions. The government should not favor one religion over another. Whether Moore or his opponents are right or wrong about their interpretation of the Constitution is open to debate. But how does any of this compare with the denial—brutal repression—of a simple Shi’ite ritual, which the Wahhabis interpret as shirk (associating anyone or anything with Allah) and therefore un-Islamic? If Moore were to hold a public ritual honoring a Christian martyr, then he would not have been attacked or arrested. Any religious ritual that someone does in this nation is legally protected, provided the ritual does not harm anyone else physically or materially. Even Satanists may march down the street peaceably or open a "church" or shop peddling their beliefs and practices. Christians may pray for them and preach the gospel to them, but these concerned Christians should not harass or threaten them with violence, nor, especially, should the government do this. In your example c, you cite France’s ban on the Muslim head-scarf worn in public schools. Germany’s Green Party supports the ban, as well. The French government also banned open displays of large religious symbols, such as the cross. Though I do not like the ban (because the scarf or other symbols harm no one materially or physically), the students are minors. No student is allowed to wear whatever he or she wants at school. But if a Muslim girl willingly wears a scarf out in the open public off of school property, then she is free to do this. However, viewing France’s policy from a distance, I believe it is misguided, unless the government concluded that other students felt threatened by Muslim youth, as seen later in the 2005 riots, which were surprisingly organized. But the policy of denying mere symbols is quite different from the Saudi government’s violent suppression of a harmless ritual honoring a Muslim "saint," done in public by adults in a minority sect. In your fourth example (d) you link to a news article that reports that the Administration of Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard says that there will not be two sets of law, a free one and shariah. The article shows that the context of these remarks came shortly after the London bombings in July 2005. The Administration was defending freedom, even religious

freedom, so that Muslims may worship as they want, peaceably. Shariah denies complete religious freedom. For example, hard-line Muslims in Australia were seeking to suppress freedom of speech that criticizes Islam. But the Administration wants to preserve it, and the way to do this is to deny oppressive shariah. To wrap up this section, you bring up "absolute freedom" and the limits on it. Then you cite four examples of western limits. But the differences between these limitations do not rise (or sink) to the level of the violent suppression of a Shi’ite ritual. The West starts any discussion about freedom from a long history of tolerance, learned from earlier centuries of bitter intolerance. Does Saudi Arabia have the same starting place? Does any other Islamic nation? Personally, I hope that Afghanistan and Iraq will enjoy such freedom. Second, When the West allows mosques and other places of worship to be built and give Muslims and adherents of other religions some freedom, Westerners do not do this as a favor to Saudi Arabia or any other Islamic country; rather, they do it because it is something that the Western political system demands. Westerners believe that this is good for the country. Third, Saudi Arabia, and all the rest of the Arabian Peninsular constitute a special case according to the Islamic religion. There are relatively more churches in some Islamic countries like the Sudan than there are in some Western countries. Fourth, This question is as valid as asking why the Vatican does not open its city to allow the propagation of Satanism, Atheism, or any other idea that is anathema to the ideas of the people of that community. Fifth, remember that our society and culture is not secular, it is religious. It therefore takes religious matters very seriously. JA: In your second major point in this section you assert that western political systems "demand" that mosques be built. I do not speak for all western political systems, but this word does not fit an American context (and I am confident that it does not fit in other western nations). The First Amendment to the American Constitution reads in its entirety, as follows: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Source) Thus, nothing in this Amendment comes close to a "demand." Modernity must allow freedom of religion, including the right of "the people peaceably to assemble," even if they are Shi’ites celebrating Ashura. In your third major point you seem to say that Saudi Arabia is a special religious case or exception. Then you cite Sudan as an example of allowing more churches there than in some western countries, relatively speaking. In reply, the sacred exceptionalism of Arabia presumably comes from the prophet of Islam himself. This hadith from Sahih Muslim says: It has been narrated by 'Umar b. al-Khattib that he heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will

not leave any but Muslim. (Muslim 4366; see a hadith in Bukhari that says Umar expelled the Jews and Christians from the Hijaz or western Arabia.) However, Jews and Christians lived in the Peninsula for centuries before Muhammad came, but his military power forced them out. This happened in the seventh century, but now this violence and intolerance is no longer compatible with modernity. What would happen if Israel were to claim that the Temple Mount is a sacred exception and precinct? Could not the government correctly argue that the mosque on the Temple of the Jews is the ultimate symbol of Islamic imperialism? Let us imagine that Israel asked Muslim governments willingly to dismantle the al-Aqsa mosque and move it near the Mount, not on it. Or maybe Israel would inform Muslim governments that it would move the mosque unilaterally, as Muhammad and Umar expelled Jews and Christians unilaterally. But back to reality. The Israeli government does not demand this. But what if Saudi Arabia allowed Christianity and Judaism to return to their historic home in the Peninsula (perhaps excluding the Hijaz)? If Judaism is unacceptable, then what about Christianity? At the very least, the authorities should permit visiting Christians to carry Bibles and wear crosses and attend specially located churches without fear of arrest. What is the harm in all of this, if it is done outside of mosques and outside of Mecca and Medina? Most important, the authorities should no longer block the internet from non-Muslim religious sites, like answering-islam.org. Are certain parts of the worldwide web sacred exceptions? Now what about Sudan? Is it really the best example of Arab tolerance? This summary from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies says that violence erupted in 1983 because radical Muslims pressured the government to impose Islamic law on the entire nation. The summary says: Jihadist government is waging [genocide] against non-Muslim blacks.
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Sudan (population 35 million) is divided into Arab, Islamic north, and black, non-Muslim south (Christians and animists); In 1983, the growing radical Islamic movement successfully pressured the government to impose Islamic law on the whole country, prompting a rebellion by the non-Muslim South; In 1989, the jihadists took power through a military coup led by General Omar el-Bashir; The national Islamic government has declared jihad against the people of the South, to be totally eradicated or brought under the banner of Arabism and Islamism.

Next, in your fourth point you say that the Vatican would not allow the propagation of Satanism and atheism in its city. In reply, however, Christianity and Judaism are not equivalent to Satanism or atheism, and neither is Shia Islam. Moreover, I quickly researched a World Atlas, and Saudi Arabia covers 1,960,582 square kilometers, whereas the Vatican is only 0.44 sq. km. Surely there is room for other religions in Saudi Arabia in regions other than the Hijaz and cities other than Mecca and Medina. How about on the worldwide web? Finally, in your fifth point, it is legitimate to take a religion seriously, and Saudi Arabia does this. But sometimes I have the feeling that Muslim governments that suppress freedom of religion are actually frightened of other ones. But if Islam is the Best Religion, then it should be easily able compete in the marketplace of ideas, in a free and open debate. The power and

winsomeness of the Final and Superior Revelation would keep Muslims in and draw members of other religions to it, freely and voluntarily and without harassment if Muslims were to leave Islam. 3. You compare Islamic fundamentalists with Christian ones, both of whom want to return to the origins of their religions, to their respective founders and sacred texts. What are the differences between the life of Jesus and of Muhammad and between the New Testament and the Qur’an, in terms of the violence or absence of violence inhering in their lives and sacred books? SaB: First, we believe that all true Prophets of God from Adam to Jesus and Muhammad were exemplary human beings. God sent them to teach people by word of mouth and example how to live a life that He loves. None of them therefore advocated any kind of violence or aggression against innocent people. Muhammad in particular was very clear on this point; he instructed that God sent him as a mercy to humanity and he warned us against expressing ourselves violently. Second, as to sacred books, although Islam advocates peace it is not a pacifist religion. God knows that some people will not only reject the truth but will stand against it and commit acts of aggression against those who uphold it. Such people must be physically stopped even if it means fighting and killing them. (For a brief account of this matter read, Islam, a Peaceful but not Pacifist Religion, in Saudis and Terror By Dr. Jaafar Sheikh Idris: Cross-Cultural Views, Ghainaa Publications, 1426 H / 2005. pp. 247-60, www.ghainaa.com). This concept is not foreign to Christians or to Americans; indeed, all societies recognize the right of selfdefense as well as the right of the state to defend its constituents and interests. Like St. Augustine’s notion of a ‘Just War’ in Christian theology, Islamic law constrains and regulates the circumstances under which Muslims are permitted to wage war and the manner in which warfare is conducted. JA: Much (not all) of what you write in your first and second points agrees with Christian ethics and the acceptable rules of war. However, I have written my articles to expose all of Islam to the uninformed public. It is wrong to leave out the unpleasant parts in the origins of your religion, which are too often applied to today’s world. For example, in the last sentence after my comments here, you write (below): "Long before current notions of environmentalism and organizations such as the United Nations, Muhammad told his followers not to cut down [sic, trees?] in warfare." But this is simply untrue, for some of the Islamic rules of war are questionable by today’s standards, before or after the United Nations was founded. Here follows a list of rules taken from the Quran and the sound hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim. The article linked at the end of the list provides the historical contexts for each one. Except for the first point, I select a translation (Hilali and Khan) that is supported by the Saudi royal family. All of the parenthetical comments are theirs. (1) Women captives are sometimes forced to marry their Muslim masters, regardless of the marital status of the women. That is, the captors are allowed to have sex with the enslaved, married or not, in most cases. The Quran in Sura 4:24 says:

4:24 And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war) . . . (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Quran, vol. 1, p. 319). Maududi, a highly respected Sunni commentator, says in his comment on the verse that it is lawful for Muslims to marry women prisoners of war even when the prisoners’ husbands are still alive. But what happens if the husbands are captured with their wives? Maududi cites a school of law that says Muslims may not marry the women, but two other schools say that the marriage between the captive husbands and wives is broken (note 44). But why is any of this a debate in the first place? The next hadith casually talks about disrobing a captured woman, but Muhammad takes her for himself. "Give me that girl!" he shouts at a Muslim raider returning from a raid. Why does he want her? . . . When on the next day, the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) again met me in the street, he said: O Salama, give me that girl, may God bless your father. I said: She is for you. Messenger of Allah! By Allah, I have not yet disrobed her. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent her to the people of Mecca, and surrendered her as ransom for a number of Muslims who had been kept as prisoners at Mecca. (Muslim 4345; see two other hadiths (and there are many) about Muslim captors having sex with women captives, here and here) (2) Muhammad gets twenty percent from his raids, and his jihadists get eighty. Does this explain, to a large degree, why he went out on or sent out so many raids? The Quran in Sura 8:41 says: 8:41 And know that whatever of war-booty that you may gain, verily one-fifth (1/5th) of it is assigned to Allâh, and to the Messenger, and to the near relatives [of the Messenger (Muhammad SAW)], (and also) the orphans, Al-Masâkin (the poor) and the wayfarer, if you have believed in Allâh and in that which We sent down to Our slave (Muhammad SAW) on the Day of criterion (between right and wrong), the Day when the two forces met (the battle of Badr) The following hadith, though specifically talking about the conquest of the Jewish tribe of Nadir, explains what the prophet of Islam does with the spoils, part of which was plowed back into preparations for further jihad: It has been narrated on the authority of Umar, who said: The properties abandoned by Banu [tribe] Nadir were the ones which Allah bestowed upon His Apostle for which no expedition was undertaken either with cavalry or camelry. These properties were particularly meant for the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). He would meet the annual expenditure of his family from the income thereof, and would spend what remained for purchasing horses and weapons as preparation for Jihad. (Muslim 4347) (3) Fruit trees may be destroyed. The Quran in Sura 59:5 says: 59:5 What you (O Muslims) cut down of the palm-trees (of the enemy), or you left them standing on their stems, it was by Leave of Allâh, and in order that He might disgrace the Fâsiqûn (rebellious, disobedient to Allâh).

This hadith supports the revelation’s "legality": Narrated Ibn Umar: Allah's Apostle had the date-palm trees of Bani Al-Nadir burnt and cut down at a place called Al-Buwaira. Allah then revealed: "What you cut down of the date-palm trees (of the enemy) or you left them standing on their stems. It was by Allah's Permission." (59.5) (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith in Bukhari here) This revelation in the Quran and support in the hadith contradicts your earlier assertion that Islam forbids cutting down trees. However, if modern Islam has improved on original Islam, then this is a welcome change. If this is so, then I hope the change is broadcast far and wide. (4) Three options are forced on the People of the Book: (1) Fight and die; (2) convert; (3) keep their religion, but pay a tax, the jizyah. Muslims argue that it was no more than a "protection" for the "privilege" of living under Islam (read: not be attacked again). The Quran in Sura 9:29 says: 9:29 Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (5) Some sound hadiths say that Muhammad disapproved of killing women and children. But in several traditions, pagan women and children may be killed at night in war. Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama: The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." I also heard the Prophet saying, "The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle." (Bukhari; Hima) Sahih Muslim agrees: It is reported on the authority of Sa'b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them. (Muslim 4321, and read the one below) To conclude, this short list of rules of jihad has been taken from this article, which provides more rules and the historical context of each one. It also has a section on jihad in Islamic law. One law says that old men and Christian monks may be killed (click on the article and scroll down to "Classical legal opinions," no. six). Third, Many Westerners often quote, out of context, some Qur’anic verses relating to Jihad and fighting. In doing so they appear to want to give the impression that, unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam is an aggressive religion. As Muslims we do believe that your present sacred books contain some of God’s words; we do not, however, believe (as your fundamentalists do) that every word in them is the word of God. There are many verses in various books of these books of the Bible that are held out as sacred seem far worse than any quote that might be taken out of context from the Qur’an. Here are some examples:

Numbers 31: 1-18 "The LORD said to Moses, 'Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites…. The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps….’ (Moses ordered) ’Now kill all the boys. And kill every women who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.’" Luke 19:27 (Jesus said) "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them - bring them here and kill them in front of me." Compare this with the following Qur’anic verses and sayings of Prophet Muhammad: Qur'an 002:190-193 "Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loves not, aggressors. And slay them wherever you find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! God is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for God. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers." Qur'an 008:59-61 "And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (God's purpose). Lo! They cannot escape. Make ready for them all you can of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby you may dismay the enemy of God and your enemy, and others beside them whom you know not. God knows them. Whatsoever you spend in the way of God it will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged. And if they incline to peace, incline you also to it, and trust in God. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower. Qur'an 005:8 5:7-10 "Remember God's grace upon you and His covenant by which He bound you when you said: We hear and we obey; and keep your duty to God. God knows what is in the breasts (of men). O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for God in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that you deal not justly. Be just: that is next to piety, and fear God. Lo! God is informed of what you do. God has promised those who believe and do good works: Theirs will be forgiveness and immense reward. And they who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, such are rightful owners of Hell." The Prophet teaches Muslim soldiers the ethics of war: to avoid killing non-combatants, women, children, and the elderly. Long before current notions of environmentalism and organizations such as the United Nations, Muhammad told his followers not to cut down in warfare. My comment on this section comes in two long parts. The first part is subdivided into a list. You cite Numbers 31:1-18. This is a common strategy of Muslim missionaries. They refer to severe verses in the Old Testament and assume that they should be carried out today. This is a misinterpretation of the older sacred text. Islam does in fact command and initiate wars against peaceful people. At the time of the revolt of Arab tribes during Abu Bakr’s caliphate and during Umar’s conquests of peaceful peoples outside of the Arabian Peninsula, the Caliphs subdued tribes and cities and peoples

who wanted to be free of Islam or who never attacked it to begin with. Further, the differences between the wars in the Old Testament and in the Quran and early Islam are profound. Here are at least six, which I edit from a previous article, linked below the list. In this list, "God" means the Deity of the Bible, and "Allah" means the deity of the Quran. (1) The historical span of time The Old Testament books covers around 1,400 hundred years before Christ, and God did not send out leaders to wage war in most of these years. For example, the Book of Judges alone says that ancient Hebrews enjoyed many decades of peace between each judge who was raised up in order to fight off aggression, sometimes as long as eighty years, longer than Muhammad’s twenty-two years of being a warner and messenger (Judges 3:11, 30-31; 5:31; 8:28, to cite only these examples). In Islam, Muhammad lived in Medina for only ten years (AD 622-632). In this brief time, he either sent out or went out on seventy-four raids, expeditions, or full-scale wars. They range from small assassination hit squads to eliminate anyone who insulted him, to an Islamic Crusade during which Muhammad led a large number of jihadists against Byzantine Christians (See no. four, below). (2) Hope of conversion In the Old Testament, sometimes God commands all the inhabitants of a region or town to be wiped out entirely, like Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-19:29). The Quran also approves of this destruction (Suras 7:80-84; 11:77-83; 15:61-77; 26:165-173; 27:54-58; 29:28-30). This is the big lesson of the Genesis passage. If God had found even only ten righteous in those cities, then he would not have destroyed them. But he did destroy them, so Sodom and Gomorrah did not have even ten righteous, except Lot and his family, who were forewarned and escaped. In contrast, Allah never commanded Muhammad to wipe out all the inhabitants of a region or town in Arabia at first. Rather, Allah and his prophet killed some and let others live. Later, however, he forces them to convert or die (Sura 9:1-6). Evidently, the pagans of Arabia were not beyond hope, but some people in the ancient world were, long before Christianity or Islam arrived on the world stage. So what is the difference between over 1,000 years BC (Old Testament wars) and 600 years AD (Islamic wars)? Jesus Christ came with the message of good news, and the church penetrated into Arabia. Christianity may have "softened up" the pagans in Arabia, which could not have happened one or more millennia before Jesus came. (3) The enemy In the Bible God orders warfare only against specific Canaanites who were too far gone in their decadence. Let us assume, contrary to fact, that a nation neighboring Israel was made up of ethical monotheists. Would God decree that a war should be waged against them? To reason deductively, Deuteronomy 20:10-15 says explicitly not to attack nearby pagans outside of Canaan. Also, Jonah preached to Nineveh, hundreds of miles away, and the inhabitants of this city were neither degraded Canaanites nor monotheists. So how much more would God not attack a nation if it were made up of monotheists?

In contrast, Allah commands warfare against monotheists (Sura 9:29, quoted above, point no. four in the list of rules of jihad). Muhammad embarked on an Islamic Crusade against the Byzantines in AD 630. They never showed up, according to the best of western scholarship, so he believed a false rumor that they were mustering a large army to invade Arabia. But along the way he extracted agreements and "protection" money from Arab Christians (and Jews) so that they would not be attacked again. Allah ordained wars of conquest in order to spread Islam by military force. For a history of the conflict between Muslims and Jews during the lifetime of Muhammad, see this article. (4) Geography God told the ancient Hebrews to cleanse the land of Canaan, but not to do this to surrounding nations (Deuteronomy 20:10-15). God did not ordain the conquest of large regions far beyond Israel, in order to spread the Hebrew religion. Little Israel was at times about twice the size of New Jersey (one of the smallest states in the US), or other times roughly the same size as this American state. How does this limited conquest compare to the gigantic Assyrian, Babylonian, or Egyptian Empires in the ancient world? How does it compare to the Islamic Empire within only a few decades after the death of Muhammad in AD 632? On the other hand, Muslims could claim that Allah told Muhammad to cleanse only Arabia of polytheists (though this is a huge land mass, much larger than New Jersey), but the prophet of Islam and his successors expand beyond this large region to conquer vast territories. Thus, ancient Israel had a completely different calling that is related specifically to their land, which is small geographically. Islam waged war on peoples of distant lands, far beyond Arabia, and it still seeks worldwide religious and political conquest, if it could. (5) Descriptive vs. prescriptive From our point of view today, the Old Testament wars in the ancient world are merely descriptive; but the Quran prescribes or commands wars today. Sam Shamoun writes: The wars and violence found within the OT are descriptive, not prescriptive. They are describing events as they occurred, commandments God had given a specific people for a specific purpose. These instructions are not prescriptions for followers today, which is unlike the Quran. The Islamic injunctions are binding on all Muslims for all times, making it mandatory that all the faithful wage war against the infidels till the end of the age. (Source) (6) A Christian perspective For Christians, this debate over wars in the Old Testament and in the Quran is academic, because they believe that the first coming of Jesus Christ (600 years before Muhammad) ushered in a new era of salvation, a way to God that excels the one offered in the Old Testament, and much better than the one offered in the Quran.

Christians honor the Old Testament, regard it as inspired, and receive great benefit from it. But at the same time they acknowledge that it was written for its own times. They also believe that Christ fulfilled it, and hence they must rise above such commands as animal sacrifices, diet restrictions, and wars over geopolitical holy sites like Jerusalem. (What the Emperor Constantine and the Medieval Crusaders did is not foundational to Christianity; only Christ is.) With that said, no Christian should ever believe that the God of the Old Testament and the New Testament are different. They are not. The same God who purified the specific land of Canaan through Joshua by military warfare is now purifying the whole world through Jesus (the Hebrew name is Joshua) only by spiritual warfare, that is, only by preaching the gospel and praying. For more information on how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, click on this article. This edited list is taken from this article. As for the second part of my comments, you say that Westerners quote the Quran out of context, but you have done this to Luke 19:27. Jesus was telling a parable. It is true that he said the words, "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them - bring them here and kill them in front of me." But you omitted the fact that he actually put those words in the mouth of an anonymous king. I explain all of this in the article Torture in the Quran and Early Islam. I wrote: In . . . [this] parable, Jesus says that a nobleman went off to become king of another land (Luke 19:11-27). But his future subjects hated him and did not want him to be king, so they sent a delegation to inform him of this. But the nobleman went anyway, and he returned as the new king of that land. After he settled his investments done by his servants while he was away, he called his enemies to stand before him and commanded his servants to kill them in front of him. This parable is discussing the end times and judgment. Every freshman [first-year] Bible student is taught to determine the genre or kind of Scripture passage that he is analyzing. If it is a parable, then the students must not take the details literally. In this case, both parables [Luke 12:35-48 and 19:11-27] relate the events at the end time, during God’s judgment (note the key theme of "return"). Islam and Christianity agree that disobedient unbelievers will be punished for their actions, in the Last Day. In these parables, Jesus is simply using the stereotypical king that had evolved over the centuries (see Daniel 2:5), so that the original listeners could catch the degree of sinfulness of the disobedient persons’ affront to God. The details of a parable must not be overinterpreted, but the essentials are what matter. And the essential message is this: The severity of the punishments in the literary world of the two parables indicates the severity of the punishments at Judgment. But the punishments in the parables about the Last Day are not to be carried out down here on earth, here and now. They are left in God’s hands in heaven when he calls for the ending of the world. However, down here on earth, can any Muslim polemicist point out a passage in the Gospels that clearly and literally and physically shows Jesus cutting people into pieces or summarily executing someone in real life? Part Six completes James Arlandson’s seven questions and Soliman al-Buthi’s answers and challenges in the section "Fundamentalism Defined" (above) of the Open Letter to Congress.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (6)
Soliman al-Buthe (or al-Buthi) wrote an Open Letter to Congress in 2005. Then he initiated a dialogue with me, so we decided on this sequence. 1. In 2005, I commented and asked questions about the Open Letter (in blue). 2. In that same year, months later, Mr. al-Buthe answered my questions and challenged me on various issues (in green). He sought the advice of Saudi religious scholars, as well. 3. Finally, in 2006, I reply to his challenges and questions (in black). Sometimes I embed this in our 2005 dialogue. I too receive help from colleagues. This part completes the seven questions and concerns found in Part Five. JA: 4. You write [in your Open Letter quoted in Part Five] that Christian fundamentalism is tolerated at "the highest echelons of the US government." Does this refer to President Bush? SaB: Yes, and I am only repeating what some of Western religious leaders and churches say about him: "The Church Report magazine is pleased to announce the 50 Most Influential Christians in America. (Please see The 50 Most Influential Christians in America.) "The staff of The Church Report is pleased to name President George W. Bush as this year’s most influential Christian. Whether battling terrorism, securing funds for the Faith-Based Initiative Program or comforting injured soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, President Bush exemplifies the qualities of being a Christian and a leader. Even when faced with difficult decisions that may not always be the most popular ones at the time, the President stands firm in his faith and strong in his convictions." Just recently the news media carried the story that Bush said that God instructed him to bomb Afghanistan and invade Iraq. JA: The link you provide says nothing about "fundamentalism." President Bush is a Methodist. The denomination is liberal. It is true that the President takes his faith seriously (perhaps more so than some of his critics on the Religious Left), but this does not mean that he is a fundamentalist. As for the report that God told Bush to "bomb Afghanistan" and "invade Iraq," the source of this report is a Palestinian who may be motivated to make the President look bad. In any case, the White House denies that the President made the comment. The American news media are made up mostly of left-of-center reporters and writers. (Ninety percent of them voted for democratic President Clinton in 1996.) They despise President Bush ("despise" is not too strong a word). If his alleged statement were true, the media would have taken advantage of it, but it was not a concern over here in the US. Bush has said repeatedly that he wants only to spread democracy and to clean up the breeding grounds of terrorism.

JA 5. You say that "Saudi fundamentalism is not based on a dispensationalist theology that seeks Armageddon." Would you please explain these two hadiths (Muhammad’s words and deeds outside of the Qur’an) that say Christ will return and break the Cross and that the last hour will not come until Muslims fight and kill Jews? Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, ". . . [S]urely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims) . . . Abu Huraira added: And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them [Christians]." (4.159) (Bukhari 4:657; see Fateh Al Bari, Page 302 Vol 7) Muslim records this saying of Muhammad: Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews. (Muslim no. 6985) SaB: We interpret these sayings in the light of Islamic teachings about what the Qur’an refers to as "People of the Book," i.e., Jews and Christians. Islam never advocated their indiscriminate killing; in fact, Islam specifically permits Muslims to eat their food and marry their women. (Qur’an, 5:5) It is a well-known historical fact (which many orthodox Jews admit) that the Jews were never treated better or with more tolerance anywhere in the world than during the days of the Muslim Empire. (Perhaps it is noteworthy that the Holocaust was a peculiarly Western, even Christian, event that has had enormous repercussions in the East.) It was because of Muslims’ tolerance that many Jews came to accept Islam, and be amongst the best of Muslims. Those ahadith quoted above are generally understood to be about particular, specific Jews who commit acts of aggression against Muslims. JA: My comment here comes in four numbered points. (1) First, you say that Muslims may marry "their women," meaning Christian and Jewish women. It is equally true that Christian or Jewish men are not permitted by sharia (Islamic law) to marry Muslim women. So the marriages go in only one direction, which puts Muslim men in control, according to traditional Islam. Please see my article on Muslim-Christian marriages, here. Second, you say that Islam never advocates the indiscriminant killing of Jews and Christians. In reply, however, the Quran endorses the mass execution of Qurayza men and pubescent boys and the mass enslavement of the women and children, after the Battle of the Trench in AD 627. Sura 33:25-26 says: 33:25 And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty. 26 And He drove

down those of the followers of the Book who backed them from their fortresses and He cast awe into their hearts; some you killed and you took captive another part. (Shakir) What could be more "indiscriminant" than killing a whole tribe, that is, every one of the boys and men? For Muhammad’s troubled relations with the Jews of Medina, see this article. For his massacre of the Qurayza Jews of Medina, go here. I have read Muslim explanations for the massacre, but they do not hold up, in my opinion. (2) You write, "It is a well-known historical fact (which many orthodox Jews admit) that the Jews were never treated better or with more tolerance anywhere in the world than during the days of the Muslim Empire." In reply, no one should deny simple facts. Sometimes a Muslim ruler was kind to Jews (and Christians), but the full story is that sometimes a ruler was oppressive. Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad, says that the Jews suffered or prospered under specific Ottoman rulers. Three summary conclusions are drawn by [Joseph] Hacker [a present-day scholar]: (i) Strong anti-Ottoman feelings prevailed in some Byzantine Jewish circles in the first decades after the fall of Constantinople. These feelings were openly expressed by people living under Latin rule and to some extent even in Istanbul; (ii) Mehmed II’s policies toward non-Muslims made possible the substantial economic and social development of the Jewish communities in the empire, and especially in the capital – Istanbul. These communities were protected by him against popular hatred, and especially from blood libels. However, this policy was not continued by Bayezid II and there is evidence that under his rule the Jews suffered severe restrictions in their religious life; (iii) The friendly policies of Mehmed on the one hand, and the good reception by Bayezid II of Spanish Jewry on the other, cause the Jewish writers of the sixteenth century to overlook both the destruction which Byzantine Jewry suffered during the Ottoman conquests and the later outbursts of oppression under both Bayezid II and Selim I. (Source) Next, Bostom reports on the indiscriminant killing of Jews and others in Palestine and the wholesale destruction of churches, synagogues, and towns, during the Caliphate of Umar (r. 634-644): The entire Gaza region up to Cesarea was sacked and devastated in the campaign of 634, which included the slaughter of four thousand Jewish, Christian, and Samaritan peasants. Villages in the Negev were also pillaged, and towns such as Jerusalem, Gaza, Jaffa, Cesarea, Nablus, and Beth Shean were isolated. In his sermon on the Day of the Epiphany 636, Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, bewailed the destruction of the churches and monasteries, the sacked towns and villages, and the fields laid waste by the invaders. Thousands of people perished in 639, victims of the famine and plague wrought by this wanton destruction. The Muslim historian Baladhuri (d. 892 C.E.) maintained that 30,000 Samaritans and 20,000 Jews lived in Caesarea alone just prior to the Arab Muslim conquest; afterward, all evidence of them disappears. Archaeological data confirms the lasting devastation wrought by these initial jihad conquests, particularly the widespread destruction of synagogues and churches from the Byzantine era, whose remnants are still being unearthed. The total number of towns was reduced from fifty-eight to seventeen in the red sand hills and swamps of the western coastal plain (i.e., the Sharon). (Source)

A Saudi Christian adds: "If it is true that Islam tolerated the Jews and treated them better, then why are not there any Jews left in Arabia after Islam began?" In citing these two articles, my goal is to balance out your positive picture with hard reality. Please see Robert Spencer’s book The Myth of Islamic Tolerance. (3) Five quick responses to your bringing up the holocaust: First, yes, it is true that the holocaust occurred in the West. But the leaders of Turkey committed genocide against the Armenians. Clearly, Hitler caused more deaths, but the Armenian genocide is an atrocity, also. Second, your use of the word "West" is too broad, and "Christian" is wrong. Hitler and his Nazi regime did not speak, for example, for the German Confessing Church which opposed him. (See their Barmen Declaration which opposed the "Reich Church.") Some members of the Confessing Church were imprisoned and killed. Third, Hitler and his leaders were pagans (of sorts) or atheists, not Christians. Even if they were to claim Christianity, their version does not fit the New Testament’s definition of the term. Fourth, it is the Allies, also members of the West, who provided the liberation and the remedy toward the end of the Second World War. Finally, it seems that some Muslims would like to carry out genocide today. The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says that Israel must be "wiped off the map." Next, one of Ahmadinejad’s advisors says that the "Holocaust issue will result in the destruction of Israel." On June 9, 2006, the reformist online daily Rooz reported that during a visit with students at Gilan University in Rasht, Iran, Mohammad Ali Ramin, advisor to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, discussed historical accusations against the Jews and questioned the Holocaust. "Claiming that the Holocaust was the principal reason why Palestine was occupied while Israel was the main cause of crises and catastrophe in the Middle East. 'So long as Israel exists in the region there will never be peace and security in the Middle East,' he said adding, 'So the resolution of the Holocaust issue will end in the destruction of Israel.' (Source) The Saudi friend reminds us of these verses: "Compare that to what Psalm 83:1-5 says about Israel." The verses promise protection of his chosen people. But what about today in Saudi Arabia? Here are some of the topics preached in main mosques: Friday Sermons in Saudi Mosques: Review and Analysis
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Part I - 'The Christians and the Jews are "Infidels," "Enemies of Allah"' Part II - 'Jews - The Descendants of Pigs and Apes' Part III - 'It is Impossible to Make Peace With the Jews' Part IV - 'Muslims Must Educate Their Children to Jihad… and to Hatred of Jews and Christians' Part V - 'The Palestinian Struggle Must be An Islamic Jihad' Part VI - 'Muslim Women's Rights are a Western Ploy to Destroy Islam' APPENDIX - About Al-Minbar

(Source; this link also has further ones to various sermons in the footnotes.) Whether these preachers of hatred, regression, and bigotry are Wahhabi or not is irrelevant to me. The bedrock fact is this: these are the views of religious leaders who preach in main mosques throughout Saudi Arabia. None of this comes from obscure, violent radicals hidden away in a mountain range. The Saudi friend adds: When I used to go to the mosque on Fridays, it was no more than a rally speech that ignited hatred in you towards those who do not believe in Allah, including the Christians and the Jews. In fact, historically, the Friday prayer was used by Muhammad and his followers as a means to encourage his followers to fight by reminding them of their earthly and heavenly rewards, a tradition that is still being carried out to this day in many mosques, especially in Saudi Arabia, including their Holy Mosque in Mecca. And in Ramadan, there is a tradition called, "The conclusion of the Quran prayer," which takes place on the 27th or the 28th day of the month, which by then the Imam would have read the entire Quran (usually starting with Chapter one on the 1st day of the month and continuing throughout, to the last chapter on the 27th day). After the Imam concludes the Quran, he begins a prayer, in which he calls the Christians and the Jews the enemies of Allah and asks Allah to destroy them by the hands of the Muslims. This is normally done in Ramadan – the so called "Holy Month." (4) These hadiths that say that stones and trees will cry out that Jews are hiding behind them, so they should be killed, are used often by radicals to drum up hatred of the Jews generally, not only of specific Jews who commit aggression against Muslims. I have too often heard the explanation from Muslim apologists (defenders) that if early Islam or the Quran says to fight, then it is always the fault of their opponents, who are always the aggressors. It seems that Islam can do no wrong even though plain reason says that it has sometimes been aggressive. In any case, the following radical leaders (not just obscure crackpots) do not make such fine distinctions. The following [is an excerpt] from a television program with Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, aired on Qatar TV on February 25, 2006. Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi is head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS), and the spiritual guide of many other Islamist organizations across the world, including the Muslim Brotherhood. "Everything will be on our side and against Jews on [Judgment Day]; at that time, even the stones and the trees will speak, with or without words, and say: 'Oh servant of Allah, oh Muslim, there's a Jew behind me, come and kill him.' (Source) The next example repeats the first, but from a Palestinian: The following [is an excerpt] from this week's official Friday sermon on Palestinian Authority (PA) TV [on May 17, 2005]. The preacher is Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, a paid employee of the PA. The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews - even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil

end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew." (Source) Finally, on May 4, 2005, Egyptian cleric Sheik Mahmoud Al-Masri says this about Jews generally. The Prophet said, as reported in the book of Al-Muslim: "Judgment day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill the Jews, and then the Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and Allah will make the stones and trees speak, saying: 'Oh Muslim, the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him', except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews." Since the Jews believe the Prophet Muhammad, they have planted Gharqad trees throughout Palestine. (Source) These three "Jew haters" do not come from Saudi Arabia, but they represent a deep prejudice against Jews among many Arabs, including Saudis. For example, this is a series of broadcasts on Saudi IQRA TV, about an especially wicked Jew in Muhammad’s day. TV programs like this only reinforce "Jew hatred." Next, one Saudi journalist is baffled by the extent of the "tremendous" hatred of Jews in his home country. Finally, these quick interviews with "the man on the street" aired on IQRA TV. Every one of them despises Jews and would not even shake their hand. The Jews are the "eternal enemies," say two Muslims. Saudis or not, the fact that these interviews were aired on IQRA TV fuels the fire of hatred in your country. But what about free speech? It could be said that IQRA TV is following this principle. In reply, are opposite views expressed? How much time does IQRA TV give to them? Mr. al-Buthi, will widespread and vocal "Jew hatred" ever stop in the Arab Muslim world? I really hope so. JA: 6. This online booklet, "The Day of Wrath," was written by Sheikh Safar Ibn Abd alRahman al-Halawi, head of the department of theology at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca. This booklet has a lengthy discussion of End Time prophecies. (Is it true that he was arrested in 1994, not for his booklet, but for his opposition to the Saudi government when it supported the South in Yemen’s civil war?) How do you match this booklet by a popular preacher and department chair of theology at a Saudi University with your assertion that Wahhabism does not seek Armageddon or is unconcerned with End Time prophecies? SaB: First, All Muslims, not only Saudis, believe in the prophetic texts that include prophecies (also mentioned in the Bible) regarding events expected to happen in future. However, Muslims are ordered by the sharia not seek the creation of circumstances that materialize these prophecies; rather, we are told to believe and deal with the prophecies as they are fulfilled (please see Mixing Prophecy and Politics). Second, Dr. Safar al-Hawali was not speaking as a Wahhabi; indeed, he himself would deny that label. No one in Saudi Arabia would call himself that. Dr. al-Hawali was simply expressing his own personal view, a view with which some scholars even in Saudi Arabia differed. JA: I appreciate your assertion that Muslims do "not seek the creation of circumstances that materialize these prophecies; rather, we are told to believe and deal with the prophecies as

they are fulfilled." This is precisely what prophecy-believing Christians do, contrary to what your linked article says. It may be true that some Christians become extreme in their beliefs, but they do not represent the mainstream. All religions have the overzealous. Those Christians aside, I have kept track of some End Time prophecy teachers, and they do not want to bring about the end of the world. However, they indeed support Israel in practical ways, such as donations to various organizations. Why? They believe that a large army will line up to attack the Jewish State of Israel. Many of these Bible prophecy teachers now believe that Islamic nations may be involved in the final battle. After reading the quotations of "Jew hatred" in the previous section, above, who can blame them for their belief? It seems that the "Jew hatred" of many Muslim leaders gives the "End Time" Christians cause for concern. However, these Christians do not believe that they can speed up the Last Day, when Christ returns. This is an interview of David Brog by Ed Lasky, two Jews, not Christians, who are enquiring into Christian Evangelical support for Israel. David Brog is the author of the book Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State. He attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School, served as an executive at America Online, and practiced corporate law. He has recently been the Chief of Staff for Senator Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania). Lasky asks Brog about the motives of these Christians. Do the motives include, at least in part, the belief that they can speed up the Second Coming? Brog replies: Christians do believe that the return of Jews to their ancestral land is a "sign of the times," i.e. a sign that the Second Coming may be drawing near. Yet this does not mean that Christians believe that they can speed the Second Coming by accelerating the pace of this return. Christian theology is clear that man cannot speed the Second Coming. Even Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." If one cannot speed the Second Coming, then Christian beliefs about the end times cannot serve as a motive for supporting Israel – there would be no cause and effect. One has to look elsewhere for Christian motives, namely to the many clear promises in Genesis. This point is easily demonstrated through the analogy you reference above. Christians believe that another "sign of the times" is the growing moral decay of society. In other words, society’s abandonment of traditional morality and embrace vice and sin it is a sign that the Second Coming is drawing near. If Christians truly believed that they could speed the Second Coming by encouraging the various signs of the times, then Christians would be out there accelerating America’s moral decay by opening brothels and casinos. Instead (and to the chagrin of many liberals), evangelicals are actively fighting all aspects of what they view as the moral decay in society, from pornography to abortion to gay marriage. This evangelical moral activism simply doesn’t make sense if their action in the world is motivated by the desire to incubate the various signs of the times. (Source) Brog, who is not a Christian, it must be emphasized, is one hundred percent correct. No practical effort will speed up the Second Coming. In fact, these prophecy-believing Christians often say that prophetic events are now happening rapidly. This means that the believers do not need to do anything to hasten them. At the same time, however, they work hard at supporting Israel in practical ways because of the blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12:3), which

says that all nations will be blessed by God’s promise of support for his nation, and because of the imminent danger it always faces. In supporting Israel, these Christians believe that they are following God, according to the Bible. They certainly do not want to cause or get involved in a nuclear conflagration, as Dr. alHawali seems to say in his radical pamphlet. He has extreme views, which are not adequately researched in the first place, regardless of his specific religious affiliation. He is also a scholar at a Saudi University, which means his prejudices have some influence. JA: 7. You say that Muslims revere and love Jesus. Would you please provide a fuller description of the Islamic Jesus? Do you know whether it matches up with the description in the Four Gospels? SaB: First, I do not think the Four Gospels are consistent with one another! Second, If the Biblical books are not historically authentic, their description of Jesus is entitled to no credence. JA: The belief that the Gospels are historically inauthentic is widespread among Muslims, but it is factually erroneous. I have already presented some evidence of their historical authenticity in Part Two (scroll down to "Is the Bible reliable and accurate?") and in Part Three (scroll down to Point D). The New Testament manuscripts far outnumber other manuscript traditions of ancient nonChristian books. And the chronological gap between the New Testament manuscripts and the events themselves and original writings is much, much shorter. This short article has a Comparative Table of New Testament and non-Christian manuscripts. In the link to Part Two, above, I also challenge the incorruptibility and absolute historical purity of the Quran (scroll down to "Is the Quran pure and uncorrupted?"). It is beyond belief, swerving over into childlike naïveté, to assume without checking the facts that the Quran came out of the ancient world perfectly preserved after its journey through history. This report says that 15,000 sheets of some Qurans were discovered in 1972. But the Muslim authorities will not allow their publication. What are they afraid of? Third, the Qur’an differs with Christianity on its most central belief about Jesus, i.e., his being the son of God. The Qur’an not only states that this belief is wrong and harmful, it gives rational and religious arguments for the fact that it is impossible for God to have a child. JA: First, it is unclear to me why the Christian belief in the Son of God is "harmful." Surely this doctrine does not, by itself and of necessity, translate into physical and material harm in some way, does it? I would not say that tauhid (strict oneness) causes "harm" by itself and of necessity. Perhaps you mean "harm" in the afterlife. However, since I am unclear on what you mean by the word in this context, I pass to the next issue. Second, one of the main "arguments" that the Quran puts forward against Jesus being the Son of God is the mere assertion that God must have a wife or consort to beget a child. This has

already been answered in Part Two, under the section "Does the Quran have a mysterious mother?" This Quranic assertion seems to be culture bound. That is, Muhammad seems to be reacting against seventh-century Arab polytheism, which says that the gods have children because of marriage or sex. Both notions, one in the Quran and the other in Arab polytheism, are rejected by Christian theology. Fourth, the Qur’an tells us that Jesus was not killed, but that he left Jerusalem alive and that he will come back as a follower of Muhammad. The Qur’an does not say that Divine Prophets cannot be killed; indeed, many of them were. Their violent deaths are simply matters of fact. JA: I must be honest here. This is a strange and farfetched belief. The Quran says that Jesus was made to appear to be crucified, but he was not actually crucified, according to Sura 4:157, which reads: 4:157 That they [the Jews] said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- (Yusuf Ali) What is so interesting about this verse is the epistemology behind it. (Epistemology studies how we acquire our knowledge.) The relevant phrase says about those who are full of doubts about Muhammad’s declaration of the non-crucifixion: the doubters are "with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow." Muhammad lived six hundred years after Jesus. The prophet of Islam was no scholar or historian or researcher. Therefore, how is he so certain ("of a surety") about his belief that Christ was not actually crucified? A revelation or historical evidence? How are Muslims so certain that Jesus "left Jerusalem alive"? A revelation in the Quran or historical evidence? Incidentally, the Quran does not explicitly say that Jesus left Jerusalem alive, but since we are now in the world of imagination, this alternative to the crucifixion is as good as any. However, even the harshest critics of the New Testament do not deny that Christ was crucified. They may doubt his bodily resurrection or his miracles, such as walking on water, but his crucifixion? None of them doubt this. For more criticism of this "revelation" in the Quran, please see this article. I have a short section on the topic in this article. It advances the idea that Muhammad may have picked up his belief in the mere appearance (not reality) of the crucifixion from Docetism, which had been circulating along the trade routes in the greater Mediterranean world for centuries. Docetism comes from the Greek word meaning "to seem" or "to appear." Fifth, we do not only love Jesus, we believe that one cannot be a Muslim if one doesn’t. Six, The Qur'an tells us that Jesus' birth was miraculous, for he had no father. That is why he is always referred to in Islam as "Son of Mary." The Qur’an tells us that he spoke while still a baby, that he could, with God's will and permission, heal the blind and the leper and raise the dead, which acts Jesus used to stress the fact that he was only a servant of God. JA: Much of your allusion to Sura 3:49 agrees with the New Testament, except for Jesus speaking as a baby. This comes from the apocryphal gospels. See my article here, which

shows that Muhammad claims revelations about events in young Mary’s life (see Sura 3:44) and, by extension, in the life of baby Jesus. But the evidence says that the Quran gets this specific information from non-canonical gospels. It is true that a few New Testament authors quote a line or two from non-Christian Greek poets, but the authors do not claim that they got this specific information only from Gabriel or only from a heightened state of ecstatic inspiration. Nor, especially, do they claim that they knew, whether by inspiration or Gabriel or other means, anything about the childhood of the Greek poets whom they cite. Seven, The Qur'an also tells us about dialogue between Jesus and God in the Hereafter Qur'an 5:116-118 "And when God says: O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say to mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside God? He says: Be glorified It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then You knew it. You know what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Your mind. Lo! You, only You are the Knower of Things Hidden. I spoke to them only that which You commanded me, (saying): Worship God, my Lord and your Lord. I was a witness of them while I dwelt among them, and when You took me You were the Watcher over them. You are Witness over all things. If You punish them, lo! they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them (lo! they are Your slaves). Lo! You, only You are the Mighty, the Wise." Qur'an 5:119-120 "God says: This is a day in which their truthfulness profits the truthful, for theirs are Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they are secure for ever, God taking pleasure in them and they in Him. That is the great triumph. To God belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and whatsoever is therein, and He is Able to do all things." Please see We Believe in Jesus by Soliman H. Albuthi. JA: I have read your article. Again, Muhammad lived six hundred years after Jesus. So how does the prophet of Islam receive this specific knowledge about Jesus? From historical research, down here on earth? From fragments of knowledge and stories circulating over the trade routes for centuries? From a revelation? I prefer the teaching of the New Testament. These authors were apostles who knew Jesus up close and personal, or they came under the authority of the apostolic community. They had clear and direct knowledge of the events in Christ’s life. And now it becomes clear why polemical Muslims must discredit the New Testament, which has passed the test of the severest of criticisms from western scholars. I again quote from these two reputable ones: The overwhelming majority of the text of the Greek New Testament is firmly established. Where uncertainties remain, in no case is any doctrinal matter at issue. (D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. Zondervan, 2005, p. 30) But this historical authenticity does not deter polemical and missionary Muslims. Why not? The Quran and the New Testament contradict each other on essential doctrines about Christ. So they believe that the Quran—it must be believed!—corrects the New Testament, even though the New Testament is much, much closer to the life of Christ than the Quran is. In a certain sense, I am glad that Muslims love Jesus. And your article shows respect for him. However, since Islam came six hundred years after him, the Quran and the hadith are

confused about him, as revealed in the following list, taken from the Conclusion of a long article. In most cases, each point (or two or three) alternates between one Islamic doctrine and an opposite one or an outright contradiction (note the first two, for example). Sam Shamoun concludes from his research: 1. The Quran denies that Jesus is God or the Son of God. 2. At the same time the Quran applies specific titles and functions to Jesus which clearly show that he is more than human, strongly supporting his Divinity and prehuman existence. 3. The Quran says that those objects that are wrongly worshiped by others are unable to create, therefore disqualifying them from being worthy of such adoration and devotion. 4. Jesus, on the other hand, creates in the same way that Allah creates which shows that he is worthy of the very worship and praise due to Allah. 5. The Quran denies that Allah has granted immortality to anyone. 6. Yet the Quran says that Jesus ascended into heaven without dying, and was neither killed nor crucified, meaning that for over 2,000 years he has remained alive! 7. The Quran suggests, with the Islamic narrations making this point explicit, that Jesus will return to the earth as a sign that the last hour is at hand. 8. It also teaches that all the Jews and Christians will believe in Jesus before he dies, which will presumably take place after his second coming. 9. But at the same time the Quran says that Jesus died already, which must have obviously happened prior to his ascension into heaven. 10. Still others believe that specific verses, namely Suras 3:55 and 5:117, teach that Jesus' earthly sojourn was terminated, was completed without dying when Allah took Jesus alive to be with himself, to be in the very presence of Allah. 11. This means that Jesus will not return since the period of his stay on earth has come to an end, thereby implying that there is no need for him to come back again. 12. But if Jesus was taken physically alive into heaven because his earthly mission was completed, which implies that he will not to return, then this contradicts the Quran's teaching that every person must taste death. 13. Not only is the Quran confused and contradictory with itself, even the socalled sound narrations are contradicting it, especially in relation to Jesus being taken alive to be with Allah himself. The hadiths deny that Jesus was taken to be with Allah since they claim that he was taken into the second heaven instead. 14. Furthermore, as we already mentioned, the narrations also speak of Christ returning which means that Jesus' earthly period wasn't complete but had to be extended to a future date. (Source) This list of contradictions in the Quran and hadith concerning Christ should surprise no one. Muhammad’s information came from "revelations" or various, incomplete beliefs about Christianity circulating around the trade routes, or an unclear knowledge of the New Testament itself. Muhammad was not a scholar, so we should not imagine him poring over dusty papyri or other manuscripts, for hours. He learned scraps of ideas. Also, his later followers added to the confusion and contradictions in their reports about his words and deeds, collected afterwards, as they related traditions about Christ.

Mr. al-Buthi, your article on Muslims believing in an Islamic Jesus is based on the Quran. This means that the article has presuppositions that are not founded on the best source for the life of Christ: the New Testament. For my part, I’ll stay with it. It is historically reliable, authentic, and closer to his life. I have never seen any solid reason to prefer the Quranic version of Jesus over the report of those who saw him and lived with him. The Saudi friend adds: All of these contradictions and confusion in Islam and its teachings demonstrate that in no way do this religion and its teachings have any divine nature. Further, why would God wait some 600 years after the time of Christ to correct any wrong teachings by the Apostles of Christ? Next, the Quran quotes from the Bible at the time of Muhammad. This means that it approves of the teaching of the Gospel up to that time, fourteen hundred years ago. Ironically, when the Quran quotes from the New Testament, it uses a parable of our Lord Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Mark (cf. Sura 48:29 and Mark 4:26-28). Therefore, if the Gospels are not reliable, then why quote from them to begin with? And where is the true Gospel that Islam claims to have existed? Who is better than God himself to point out this Gospel and show it to Muhammad, if he was indeed was a prophet of God? Please continue with Part Seven.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (7)
Soliman al-Buthe (or al-Buthi) wrote an Open Letter to Congress in 2005. Then he initiated a dialogue with me, so we decided on this sequence. 1. In 2005, I commented and asked questions about the Open Letter (in blue). 2. Months later in that same year, Mr. al-Buthe answered my questions and challenged me on various issues (in green). He sought the advice of Saudi scholars, as well. 3. Finally, in 2006, I reply to his challenges and questions (in black). Sometimes I embed this part in our 2005 dialogue. I too receive help from colleagues. Open Letter to Congress (continued): Misconceptions on Jihad The scholars of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been among the most vocal opponents of religious extremism and terrorism in the Muslim world. Long before September 11, 2001, our scholars had warned against the dangers of extremism and spoken decisively against the spreading of civil strife and violence in the name of "jihad." All Muslim terrorism is both created by and reflects an ignorance of the tenets of Islam and a false belief in the meaning and rules of jihad. This can only be corrected by the scholars of Islam, and it is counter-productive for the United States to claim that it is fighting terrorism while targeting those most able to correct the ignorance in which such terrorism is born.

Jihad does not equate with terrorism or the spreading of civil strife; rather, jihad is a concept with which most of your citizens would agree if correctly understood. In Islamic belief, the greatest jihad is the struggle that each soul must wage against itself to live a pure and good life. At the same time, Islam empowers its adherents to defend their lives, property, and honor from attack. When injustice is present, Islam not only tolerates fighting, it is required. When, however, a Muslim is required to fight, his behavior is constrained by a detailed code of conduct that prohibits attacks on innocent civilians, the harming of the environment, the destruction of places of worship, and the harassment of priests and non-combatants. That said, Muslims do not seek war with our enemies. However we recognize, as does the West, that sometimes war is unavoidable. The rules of engagement in Islam are well defined and Islam views the peaceful resolution of disagreement and conflict as being preferable to war. JA (2005): It is true that some scholars hold these views on jihad, such as the seeming moderates at this Saudi website http://fatwa-online.com/. But it is also true that other Saudi scholars see jihad as offensive, not defensive. The views of peaceful Saudis do not potentially harm the non-Islamic world, but the views of the radicals lash out and harm people. SaB (2005): First, we know of no scholar who has interpreted "jihad" to be preemptive in the sense of waging war against innocent people simply just because they are not Muslims. Such an interpretation would be a clear violation of God's equally clear command: Qur'an 002:190-193 "Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loves not, aggressors. And slay them wherever you find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! God is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for God. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers." Those who said that jihad is not only defensive meant that one need not wait until a promised attack occurs, and then only to fight back. Thus Muslims are allowed only seek out and attack those whom they discover to be preparing to attack them. This is why they termed this kind of jihad, jihad at-talab (i.e., "seeking out or going after"). Second, Isn’t it the fact that the West (and especially the United States) that is lashing out and harming people all over the world, both Muslims and non-Muslims, by employing President Bush’s concept of "preemptive war"? JA (2006): We have invited a colleague and friend, formerly of Saudi Arabia, to comment on our dialogue. He adds: Please see what Osama bin Laden had said in an interview regarding fighting and his fatwa against Americans, Christians & Jews – and see the kind of verses he is using to support that, here. Furthermore, this statement of yours disagrees with the historical facts: "we know of no scholar who has interpreted "jihad" to be preemptive in the sense of waging war against innocent people simply just because they are not Muslims." The truth? Within a hundred

years after Muhammad’s death in AD 632, the Muslim armies conquered a huge part of the world from India to Spain. Did all those countries attack Arabia and Islam so that Muslims were forced to simply defend themselves? Or was it not the initiative of the Caliph to start those wars and conquer further countries? Muslims all over the world are proud of this historical period and the great advance of Islam. They call it "opening these countries for Islam." It allegedly brings justice, so that conquered peoples may get to know and accept the message of Islam. Again, the crucial term is "innocent" (your word). Muhammad (supposedly) sent letters to the various emperors. They did not accept Islam; therefore they were no longer innocent. They had to be warned, but then Muslims were free to attack those countries. Next, you state that Muslims are not allowed to wage war "against innocent people simply just because they are not Muslims." If I understand these words, they imply that President Bush wages war just because a nation is made up of Muslims. The reply to this follows, after I quote some other of your words in this section. You state that "Muslims are allowed only [to] seek out and attack those whom they discover to be preparing to attack them" . . . . In reply, this somewhat describes the US position before the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, if we factor in our allies. (1) Hussein violated numerous United Nations Resolutions after the Gulf War. (2) Hussein violated the "no-fly" zone repeatedly. (3) His military fired on our jets during patrols many times, in violation of the terms of surrender signed in the Gulf War. (4) We had obligations to protect countries in the Gulf region, and his actions were aggressive. (5) Evidence is now surfacing from countless pages of documents (most are untranslated so far) and actual discoveries that Hussein in fact had weapons of mass destruction and sought to improve the use of this weaponry (he used them against his own citizens). (6) Evidence is now surfacing that Saddam had contacts with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. (7) Bush said in speeches leading up to the invasion that he would not wait until the threat becomes imminent, but would take action as a dangerous regime threatens its neighbors and our allies. (8) It is true that Hussein’s capabilities could not reach us directly, but they could wreak damage on our allies or aid and abet non-conventional militants to attack us. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan, located around the other side of the globe from the US, proves this. It provided the environment for militants to launch their attacks. Thus, Bush did not invade Afghanistan or Iraq just because the majority of their citizens are Muslims. As for harming and lashing out, Hussein killed hundreds of thousands of his own people during his reign of terror. Now people can live in peace, except when Sunnis and other factions, some of whom are called to jihad in Saudi Arabia, detonate car bombs. Finally, the world is now threatened by Iran. Does Iran threaten Saudi Arabia? It remains to be seen whether President Bush and his Administration will make a "preemptive" strike on its nuclear facilities. However, for now, negotiations continue apace, but for how long? SaB (2005): Third, Westerners and particularly many Americans seem to be utterly unrealistic in their thinking that they can do what they want with people around the world in defense of what their politicians deem to be America’s national interest and then expect universal love and trust from the people of the world. JA (2006): Here is my view on worldwide love and trust. I don’t seek these things. I first care about doing the right thing. If this wins me love and trust, then great. If not, then so be it.

What about the American contribution to the world (or doing what it wants with people around the world, to paraphrase your words)? The timeframe is after the First World War (1914-1918), when America finally grows in its international influence, until the present day. This beginning point is crucial, because we were not well established on the international stage before then. Here is a list of names that I come up with at the moment: Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin (Khrushchev, Brezhnev and other dictators up to Gorbachev), Benito Mussolini, General Hideki Tojo, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, his son Kim Jong Il, Fidel Castro, and an assortment of Eastern European dictators. These persons have at least three characteristics in common: (1) Hyper-control (authoritarianism or totalitarianism) over their citizens; (2) the cause of deaths and misery on a wide scale (e.g. by economic mismanagement, starvation, wars, direct murders en masse); Stalin was responsible for 24 million deaths and Mao for 50 to 75 million; (3) opposition by America and its allies, in one way or another or to one degree or another. To cite a few specific examples, it is true that we had to be allies with Stalin to fight Hitler, and President Roosevelt looked the other way as Stalin took over Eastern Europe, but we eventually fought his puppet regime in Korea. President Truman provided the Berlin airlift which caused the survival of a free Berlin, as an island in unfree communist East Germany. Does anyone of a sound mind doubt that China would conquer Taiwan if the US gave the green light or looked the other way or (God forbid) did not exist? Thus, our opposition to these fascists is mixed, but at least we have been trying since 1918 to the present. Based on this list of dictators and American (and allied) opposition to them, I believe that America (and its allies) has benefited the world more than harmed it, though my country is far from perfect. South Korea, Germany, and Japan all breathe the fresh air of freedom and democracy, and so do many Eastern European countries today. At least in part, America (and its allies) helped them achieve this God-given right. Incidentally, Korea did not have oil, but we sacrificed our men (around 38,000) to give the bottom half of the Peninsula freedom and prosperity. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld describes (scroll down towards the end) a nighttime satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula. The North is entirely dark except Pyongyang, the showcase city, but the South glows with prosperity. So how does all of this relate to Islamic nations? First, Saddam Hussein should be added to the Horrible Hall of Fame, and we and our allies fought and overthrew him. President Bush wants to spread freedom around that part of the globe, as the Iraqis carve out their own version of democracy. Second, these regimes listed above have some other features in common. They killed dissenters and critics, and they refused to permit their citizens to leave the official ideology, on pain of death or imprisonment. Third, is there a religious-political ideology that began with an authoritarian leader who passed on his rulership to authoritarian successors? Did these men lash out and harm and wage aggressive wars on peaceful peoples who did not attack them in the slightest? Is there a religious-political ideology that kills critics and apostates, today? Is there a religious-political ideology that exercises absolute control over and imposes harsh and brutal laws on its citizens?

It seems, therefore, that imperfect America and its imperfect allies have helped, imperfectly or successfully, people enjoy freedom, so they can live as they want within justice and modern laws that do not directly come from the seventh century. But we have a long way to go. Our Saudi friend and colleague adds: Why do many of the Muslim leaders remain in power for decades? Why are their people longing for freedom? Why do their people leave and immigrate to other countries, especially to Europe, America and Australia, if they are living in a peaceful and democratic condition in their own land? Why do Muslim countries have the worst human rights conditions in the world? SaB (2005): Fourth, I am one of those who believe that both our and Western interests can be served by, among other things, peaceful dialogue. That is why I wrote to you. The sense I have, however, is that you believe that all the blame is on our side, and that no good can be achieved unless we reject our religion and toe the Western line. Fifth, there is no such thing as Wahhabism; this is a name which the enemies of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahab gave to his teachings to claim that he was advocating something other than Islam. And this is precisely what the Western – and particularly American – propaganda machines are spewing forth. JA (2006): I am glad you wrote me and we are dialoguing. As for the blame being on the Muslim side unless Muslims reject their religion, they are "free" to keep their religion, until they leave it. Then they may be tortured, imprisoned, or executed. Moreover, in Part Three I asked: Since Islam is the continuation of religions, is it the will of Allah that Islam must spread around the world? And you answered: a. Islam sees itself, as does contemporary Christianity, as the only means by which mankind can be saved. As such, all Muslims are inspired by concern for their brothers in humanity to spread this soul-saving message. You added below that short excerpt (a): b. The requirement that Muslims spread their faith through argumentation and reason is what God asserts in Qur'an 061:009 . . . . You and "all Muslims" want Islam to spread around the world, hopefully converting as many as possible, especially adherents to polytheistic religions. In Part 8, you will say that Christians are polytheists. Islam must win out. Toe the Western line? Islamic countries are too often breeding grounds for terrorism today, and this lashes out and harms people all over the globe, in small, secret ways. Granted, Wahhabism—or whatever label you choose—may not cause all of the terrorism, but it certainly cannot be exempt from any questions in this regard.

JA (2005) 1. You say that the purpose of jihad is to establish justice where injustice prevails. Do you believe that Arab Muslims (or any Muslims) are establishing justice in the Sudan? SaB (2005): First, we have never claimed that everything that everything [sic] a Muslim or group of Muslims does reflects Islamic values and teachings. By the same token, I doubt that Christians would believe it fair for them to be held to such a standard. Second, and to the immediate point, the war in Darfur is not a religious war, for all Sudanese Darfurians are Muslims. Moreover, the war has nothing to do with color since all participants are black. It has nothing to do with racial discrimination since. Sudanese tell us that Darfurians from all tribes are to be found in the government, in the army, in the police force, among business people etc. What, then, is the problem? It is an old problem between settlers and grazers that has unfortunately taken a political twist, only then to be exploited by foreign powers. We hope that it will soon be solved. JA (2006): It is true that one group of Muslims does not reflect all Islamic values and teachings. But in your second paragraph of your Open Letter, above, you speak of "Islam" and "a Muslim" and "Muslims" generally. Further, I never said anything about Darfur, a region in western Sudan. I asked about Sudan generally. I have already linked to a report by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy. Since its summary is brief, I repeat it here. Jihadist government [in Sudan] is waging [genocide] against non-Muslim blacks.
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Sudan (population 35 million) is divided into Arab, Islamic north, and black, non-Muslim south (Christians and animists); In 1983, the growing radical Islamic movement successfully pressured the government to impose Islamic law on the whole country, prompting a rebellion by the non-Muslim South; In 1989, the jihadists took power through a military coup led by General Omar el-Bashir; The national Islamic government has declared jihad against the people of the South, to be totally eradicated or brought under the banner of Arabism and Islamism.

So it is a fact that war is being waged by northerners (Arab Muslims) on southerners (black non-Muslims). And Darfur is in equal trouble from Islam. JA (2005) 2. Sayyid Abdul A’La Maulana [sic, Maududi] in his commentary on the Qur’an (e.g. Sura 8, vol. 2, p. 156, note 50) frequently argues for the distinction between Dar-alIslam (Abode of Islam) and Dar-al-Kufr (Abode of Unbelief). Do you believe that the nonMuslim world, for example, America, lives in the second Abode? Do you believe therefore that it also lives in Dar-al-Harb (Abode of War)? SaB (2006): The abode of war, as the name indicates, is the abode of people with whom Muslims are in a state of war. It does not seem to make any sense to describe a country as an abode of war when there are diplomatic, business, and cultural relations with that country. JA (2006): This sounds reasonable in theory, even though Maududi says that non-Islamic lands are in the Abode of unbelief and therefore are vulnerable to war, whether in an actual state of war or not. However, if you say that your version of Islam has improved on or rejects

this religious-political philosophy, then so much the better. But I omit a discussion of the reality or practice. Our Saudi friend and colleague adds: I suggest that Mr. alButhi start reading the commentaries of his own people regarding this issue. The Quran clearly states in Sura 21:105 that the land shall be inherited by the righteous. This in fact was a direct quote from Psalm 37:29, yet the Quran manipulated the true meaning of this verse in the Psalms. When we read the Quran Commentary regarding this verse, we find that these commentators state that the land is the one under the rule of the unbelievers, and that Allah promised the Muslims to gain it by any mean. Does not this mean war against the unbelievers in order to gain the land? Please see these links to the Arabic commentaries on this verse: Ibn Kathir, Tabari, Qurtubi. JA (2005) 3. Please explain Sura 9:29, which reads as follows: Fight [q-t-l] against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Hilali and Khan, parenthetical notes are original) The verb jihad is not used, but the other verb for fighting, qatala (q-t-l), is used. What is the difference between jihad and qital? SaB (2005): Jihad is a general term; it does include war. There general meaning, however, is much broader, and jihad may be carried out without war ("strive against them (by preaching) with the utmost endeavor, with it (the Qur'an))", Sura Al-Isra [Sura 17]. This verse well illustrates the Westerners’ misinterpretation of jihad as "holy war." JA (2006): Sura 17 was revealed in Mecca. This historical context demonstrates that Muhammad had no military power to strive for his religion in a violent way. He had to take the path of peace and tolerance at that time. If only that were the complete story of Islam! Then came the Hijrah or emigration from Mecca to Medina in AD 622. His ten years in Medina tell the fuller story. He waged military jihad, sending out or going out on seventyfour raids, assassination hit squads, confrontations, skirmishes, or full-scale wars. Thus, the (peaceful) Meccan suras are often used to misinterpret or whitewash jihad. The (violencefilled) Medinan suras balance out the positive picture of Islam (see my point three in the very next section). SaB (2005): And here is our interpretation of "jihad"; First, If this verse is taken in isolation from other verses and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, and if it is taken out its historical context with no regard to Muslims’ practice, then it might be understood to mean that Muslims are ordered to fight all people of scripture. Second, we know that, according to Qur’an, Muslims can have all kinds of relationships with non-Muslims. They can make peace treaties with them; they can take some of them as allies; they can intermarry; they can allow them to live as individuals among them, and so on.

Third, since the main message of all true Prophets is to guide people to the right path to God, prophets generally have started by inviting the people in a peaceful and nice way to the truth, after which they have expended great effort to explain the right path to them and use different means of persuasion in order to secure acceptance of the message. Our Prophet tells us that one gets the best of rewards by being given by God the honor of guiding even a single person to the truth. The reward that one gets in this case, the Prophet tells us, is greater than that of fighting enemies and killing them or being killed by them. JA (2006): My numbered reply corresponds to your three points. (1) The historical context of Sura 9:29? Muhammad launched his Tabuk "Crusade" in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that a huge army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his large number of jihadists or qitalists returned home (so says Western scholarship), but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews. They had three options: (1) fight and die; (2) convert to Islam; (3) or submit and pay the second-class-citizen jizya tax for the "privilege" of living under Islam. Thus, Sura 9:29 commands battle for theology and practice. It says nothing explicit about a real and physical harm done to Islam. However, if you claim that Islam today has moved past such violent verses in the Quran, then I hope this improvement on the prophet and his book will be broadcast far and wide, especially to al-Qaeda and its kind. Also, I believe that we may get distracted by the term "jihad" when we should instead focus on "qital." This word has no ambiguity, and Muhammad commanded it on peaceful people. (2) You say that Muslims may make peace treaties with non-Muslims. It is true that Muhammad signed the Treaty of Hudaibiyah (AD 628) when he was weak (due to his failed pilgrimage to the Kabah without Meccan permission), but the treaty did not last long. In addition, it must be stated that the Quran warns against alliances and treaties with nonMuslims. These famous verses in Sura 9 free Muhammad from all treaty obligations with polytheists unless they become Muslims. If polytheists have been faithful to their treaty, then he must wait until its terms have expired. Then they may be attacked, after sacred months have passed by. 9:1 Freedom from (all) obligations (is declared) from Allâh and His Messenger (SAW) to those of the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh), with whom you made a treaty . . . 3 And a declaration from Allâh and His Messenger to mankind on the greatest day (the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah - the 12th month of Islâmic calendar) that Allâh is free from (all) obligations to the Mushrikûn (see 2:105) and so is His Messenger. So if you (Mushrikûn) repent, it is better for you, but if you turn away, then know that you cannot escape (from the Punishment of) Allâh. And give tidings (O Muhammad SAW) of a painful torment to those who disbelieve. 4 Except those of the Mushrikûn with whom you have a treaty, and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfill their treaty to them to the end of their term. Surely Allâh loves AlMattaqûn (the pious - see 2:2). 5 Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islâmic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikûn (see 2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and give Zakât, then leave their way free. Verily, Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Hilali and Khan)

It is on verses like these that Islamic law is built, and the treaties may be temporary, as Islam defines it. Our Saudi friend and colleague adds: Look at what Muhammad did after he signed a treaty how he soon negated it. For more information on this, please read this article (see the section on Entering Mecca). You say that Muslims may marry Christians and Jews, but this needs to be clarified. Christian or Jewish men are not permitted by sharia (Islamic law) to marry Muslim women. So the marriages go in only one direction, which puts Muslim men in control, according to traditional Islam, especially the Islam of Saudi Arabia. Please see my article on MuslimChristian marriages, here. Further, Islam allows non-Muslims as "individuals" (not as authorities?) to live among Muslims. In reply, they are known as dhimmis. They are second-class citizens who have to pay a special tax. I have heard the explanation that this tax gives them various exemptions, such as not fighting in wars, but the dhimmis are still treated as subservient. Too often Islam is excessively controlling and imposes violent laws that oppress people, so why would dhimmis want to live under it, if these conquered peoples were not deprived of a choice? (3) It may be true that Allah grants rewards to his Muslims if they bring people to the truth by peaceful means, but this is not the whole story. The prophet of Islam grants military jihadists or qitalists extra earthly and heavenly status and rewards for fighting in military jihad or qital. Three passages provide the evidence. First, Sura 4 was revealed over a three-year period in the middle of Muhammad’s career (AD 625-627). He is not quite as secure as he will be when he conquers Mecca in AD 630. For now, he needs to recruit jihadists or qitalists for his raids, conflicts, and wars. One way to get them to join up is to promise earthly or heavenly rewards. 4:74 Let those (believers) who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in the Cause of Allâh, and whoso fights in the Cause of Allâh, and is killed or gets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward. (Hilali and Khan) Second, this verse in Sura 4 teaches that Allah has created at least a two-tier system in his Muslim ummah or community: (A) Those who "strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives" and (B) those who sit at home. The disabled are in a separate category. 4:95. Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allâh with their wealth and their lives. Allâh has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allâh has promised good (Paradise), but Allâh has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward; (Hilali and Khan) At the end of Muhammad’s life, he reinforces this two-caste system: see Sura 9:38-39, 41, 44, 86, 87.

Finally, as seen in 4:74, an economic bargain is offered to jihadists or qitalists in the next verse. Allah purchases their lives in exchange for Islamic paradise. Sura 9 is the last sura to be revealed in its entirety. 9:111 Verily, Allâh has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allâh's Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him in the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) and the Qur'ân. And who is truer to his covenant than Allâh? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success. (Hilali and Khan) This "revelation" is completely wrong about the Bible’s command to fight in bloody wars in order to bring heavenly rewards. Moses ordered wars that were time-specific (more than 3,000 years ago), location-specific (holy land), and purpose-specific. But Moses or Joshua or the judges did not promise heaven, automatically, for the express act of dying in wars. Certainly Jesus did not order bloody jihads or qitals. All of these passages use win-win-win logic from Islam’s point of view. If a jihadist or qitalist dies fighting, then he gets Islamic paradise. If he wins and lives, then he gets material spoils. If he is defeated but escapes with his life, then he gets to fight another day. Please continue this part of our dialogue on jihad in Part Eight.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (8)
This part concludes the discussion begun in Part Seven. The Open Letter to Congress defining jihad is repeated here. Open Letter to Congress (repeated): Misconceptions on Jihad The scholars of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been among the most vocal opponents of religious extremism and terrorism in the Muslim world. Long before September 11, 2001, our scholars had warned against the dangers of extremism and spoken decisively against the spreading of civil strife and violence in the name of "jihad." All Muslim terrorism is both created by and reflects an ignorance of the tenets of Islam and a false belief in the meaning and rules of jihad. This can only be corrected by the scholars of Islam, and it is counter-productive for the United States to claim that it is fighting terrorism while targeting those most able to correct the ignorance in which such terrorism is born.

Jihad does not equate with terrorism or the spreading of civil strife; rather, jihad is a concept with which most of your citizens would agree if correctly understood. In Islamic belief, the greatest jihad is the struggle that each soul must wage against itself to live a pure and good life. At the same time, Islam empowers its adherents to defend their lives, property, and honor from attack. When injustice is present, Islam not only tolerates fighting, it is required. When, however, a Muslim is required to fight, his behavior is constrained by a detailed code of conduct that prohibits attacks on innocent civilians, the harming of the environment, the destruction of places of worship, and the harassment of priests and non-combatants. That said, Muslims do not seek war with our enemies. However we recognize, as does the West, that sometimes war is unavoidable. The rules of engagement in Islam are well defined and Islam views the peaceful resolution of disagreement and conflict as being preferable to war. JA (2005): 4. My concern is that Saudi scholars say one thing in English, but they say another in Arabic. For example, this website, which is still named after bin Baz, has English and Arabic sections. Once I click on the English version of the site, I find only words of peace. But once I click on the following two links, I find him espousing a more aggressive definition of Jihad. At this link I find the title, "The Value of Jihad and the Mujahadeen." And this link has the title "The Requirement to Be Hostile to Jews and Mushrikun" (this last word means those who associate another deity with Allah). In your letter (endnote 2, below), you criticize former Israeli UN ambassador Dore Gold’s book, Hatred’s Kingdom (Regnery, 2003), but those are the translations of the titles that he gives (p. 288, endnotes 22 and 24). Do you believe he mistranslates the titles? Here follow two questions based on my point no. 4: A. Can you explain why we do not have access to the English translations of more aggressive views on jihad? SaB (2005): First, Muslims scholars are not obliged to translate their works to other languages just as Western scholars are not expected to translate their works into the major languages of the world. Second, I have no specific explanation regarding differences in translation between Arabic and English texts in Sheikh Bin Baz web site; however, they might be simple mistakes. Nevertheless, I think that the very fact that the text was posted in Arabic will allow Westerners to discover the Sheikh’s views; they are very clear and published widely in the internet and other media. JA (2006): First, I may not have made my Question A clear. I intended to point out the two faces of the websites: peace in English and qital or jihad in Arabic. Second, I doubt whether the difference in subject matter in English and Arabic are "simple mistakes." My hunch is that the two faces are deliberate. Also, their viewpoints may be available on the web for all to see, but many Westerners cannot read Arabic. This would not normally be a concern for them, except that these two-faced websites are not about flower festivals, but about war and violence waged on infidels, who include many Westerners, and others around the globe.

JA (2005): B. Bin Baz seems to believe that Christians belong to the mushrikun? Does this reflect the view of mainstream Wahhabism? SaB (2005): First, Christians do not belong to the Mushrikeen as a group that is given this name. This said, the epithet of "Mushrik" does apply to many of them. This is like saying, for example, that someone is a democrat, but he is not a member of the Democratic Party. This should come as no surprise if one understands what is meant by "shirk," which is the foot of "Mushrik." A mushrik is one who worships something else besides God. One may be a mushrik even if he or she believes in the existence of only one Creator. In the "times of ignorance," the Arabs, who were the first to be invited to Islam by Prophet Muhammad, never believed in more than one Creator; there are hardly any people who do so. But the Arabs of the times of ignorance nevertheless may fairly be described as mushrikeen or polytheists because they worshipped idols which they took to be intermediaries between them and the one God. Christians likewise believe in the existence of one Creator, but they worship Jesus as a son of that Creator; this leads to their being labeled as polytheists in the Islamic sense. JA (2006): We have invited a friend and colleague, originally from Saudi Arabia, to comment on our dialogue. He adds: If that was the case, why then does the Quran in Sura 10:94 ask Muhammad and Muslims to consult with the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) – if the Christians were idol worshipers (Mushrikeen)? Did Muhammad not know that? SaB (2005): Second, What Shk. Bin Baz believes, that the Oneness of God, should be the belief of all Muslims since it is what the Qur'an clearly affirms: Qur'an 005:72-74 "They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! God is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel worship God, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! Whoever ascribes partners to God, for him God has forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evildoers there will be no helpers. They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! God is the third of three; when there is no God except the One God. If they desist not from so saying, a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. Will they not rather repent to God and seek forgiveness of Him? For God is Forgiving and Merciful." JA (2006): Contrasting your answer at the beginning of your first point and at the end of it is interesting. At the beginning you write: First, Christians do not belong to the Mushrikeen as a group that is given this name. This said, the epithet of "Mushrik" does apply to many of them. This is like saying, for example, that someone is a democrat, but he is not a member of the Democratic Party. But at the end you write:

Christians likewise believe in the existence of one Creator, but they worship Jesus as a son of that Creator; this leads to their being labeled as polytheists in the Islamic sense. I am happy that you are open about this. Now we Christians know where we stand with Wahhabism (or you choose the label). Clarity is better than confusion. It must be noted, however, that your prophet was no theologian, so he misrepresents Christian belief in Sura 5:72-74. We are monotheists, but our monotheism is very special. We believe that for eternity past, before God created the heavens and the earth, he lived in perfect triune community and fellowship. He never lived in isolation or loneliness, all by himself. Now he calls us to join this community in heaven, to be with him, either after we die or after the Last Day (whichever comes first). For me, this is an indispensable and precious doctrine and promise that I could never give up. I have already written an article on the subject. See the addendum, below, which translates a fatwa by bin Baz on jihad. It is not only defensive. JA (2005): 5. This website quotes from many Friday sermons in Mosques throughout Saudi Arabia in September 2002, one year after 9/11. The sermons do not express a high view of Christians and Jews and women. Do you know whether these sermons reflect the views of mainstream Wahhabism? 6. These scholars on Saudi television in February 2005 seem to have an aggressive view of jihad. Do you believe that they reflect mainstream Wahhabism? SaB (2005): First, I repeat, no one here would call himself a "Wahhabi." Second, Preachers are not necessarily scholars and in many cases they speak from the standpoint of their personal opinions. Many Muslim scholars have disagreed with such personal opinions. Third, while the statements of such preachers may indeed be somewhat strange, they pale by comparison to the sayings of some of the West’s most popular preachers today: Sue Lindsey, Associated Press Writer, Tue Aug 23, 12:21 PM ET: Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has suggested that American agents assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism." At the end of his tour, Graham stood in front of the camera and said: "As soon as I get back (home) I'm going to share what I've seen here. Khartoum should be hit with the full force of American military strikes. Why not? These people are just as evil as Saddam Hussein." (Please see Sudan: Christian Right might inflame war, observers fear; AFRICANEWS, May 2001 - source). Is it fair to suggest that these preachers’ statements represent Christianity and all Christians?

JA (2006): First, this is a series of broadcasts on Saudi IQRA TV, about an especially wicked Jew in Muhammad’s day. National TV programs like this only reinforce "Jew hatred." Second, these quick interviews with "the man on the street" aired on IQRA TV. Every one of them despises Jews and would not even shake their hand. The Jews are the "eternal enemies," say two Muslims. Saudis or not, Wahhabis or not, these interviews were aired on IQRA TV and fuel the fire of "Jew hatred" in your country. But what about free speech? It could be said that IQRA TV is following this principle. In reply, are opposite views expressed? How much air time does IQRA TV give to them? As for Pat Robertson, he has apologized for his misguided remarks. Have the numerous preachers of hate apologized? They preach at main mosques all over Saudi Arabia. Incidentally, Robertson did not live in the first century, so he was no founder of Christianity. But Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ordered the assassinations of his enemies. He "succeeded." Some victims were women who merely mocked him with poems or with a few spoken words. Thus, Robertson’s words "pale by comparison" to Muhammad’s real-life, violent actions. Now, Franklin Graham. A student in one of my classes was a missionary to Sudan, working in a medical clinic. He told me privately after class that he saw non-Muslim Sudanese women who were maimed so they could not have children. Their breasts were cut off, to cite only one of his examples. "Who did this to them?" I asked. "Muslims," came the reply. Maybe Graham saw the same things or worse after his tour. Finally, you write in your Open Letter to Congress, above: When, however, a Muslim is required to fight, his behavior is constrained by a detailed code of conduct that prohibits attacks on innocent civilians, the harming of the environment, the destruction of places of worship, and the harassment of priests and non-combatants. I have already written in Part Five that Islam indeed violates these rules, at least the Islam ordained by Muhammad. Since our multipart dialogue is so long, the following list is reduced from Part Five, and the translation is done by Hilali and Khan, except for the first one. (1) Women captives are sometimes forced to "marry" their Muslim masters, regardless of the marital status of the women. That is, the captors are allowed to have sex with the enslaved, married or not, in most cases. The Quran in Sura 4:24 says: 4:24 And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war) . . . (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Quran, vol. 1, p. 319). Maududi, a highly respected Sunni commentator, says in his comment on the verse that it is lawful for Muslims to marry women prisoners of war even when the prisoners’ husbands are still alive. But what happens if the husbands are captured with their wives? Maududi cites a school of law that says Muslims may not marry the women, but two other schools say that the

marriage between the captive husbands and wives is broken (note 44). But why is any of this a debate in the first place? The next hadith casually talks about disrobing a captured woman, but Muhammad takes her for himself. "Give me that girl!" he shouts at a Muslim raider returning from a raid. Why does he want her? . . . When on the next day, the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) again met me in the street, he said: O Salama, give me that girl, may God bless your father. I said: She is for you. Messenger of Allah! By Allah, I have not yet disrobed her. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent her to the people of Mecca, and surrendered her as ransom for a number of Muslims who had been kept as prisoners at Mecca. (Muslim 4345; see two other hadiths (and there are many) about Muslim captors having sex with women captives, here and here) (2) Fruit trees may be destroyed. The Quran in Sura 59:5 says: 59:5 What you (O Muslims) cut down of the palm-trees (of the enemy), or you left them standing on their stems, it was by Leave of Allâh, and in order that He might disgrace the Fâsiqûn (rebellious, disobedient to Allâh). This revelation in the Quran contradicts your assertion that Islam forbids harming the environment. However, if modern Islam has improved on original Islam found in the Quran and the Sunnah, then this is a welcome change. If this is so, then I hope the change is broadcast far and wide. (3) Some hadiths say that Muhammad disapproved of killing women and children. But in several sound traditions, pagan women and children may be killed at night in war. Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama: The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." I also heard the Prophet saying, "The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle." (Bukhari; Hima) Sahih Muslim agrees: It is reported on the authority of Sa'b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them. (Muslim 4321, and read the one below) This short list of rules of jihad or qital has been taken from this article, which provides more rules and the historical context of each one. It also has a section on jihad in Islamic law. One law says that old men and Christian monks may be killed (click on the article and scroll down to "Classical legal opinions," no. six). The purpose here is to balance out your positive picture and to expose all of original Islam. It is wrong to withhold the unpleasant and violent parts that too often are applied to the modern world inside or outside of Islam.

I know that you wrote your Open Letter to explain that "Wahhabi" is a misnomer and your version of Islam is the purest and peaceful. However, when it comes to violence, it is irrelevant to me whether it emanates from Wahhabis or some other Muslims—or you choose the label for your version of Islam besides "Muslims," which many other sects claim for themselves. To conclude, this part of your Open Letter, above, says: All Muslim terrorism is both created by and reflects an ignorance of the tenets of Islam and a false belief in the meaning and rules of jihad. This can only be corrected by the scholars of Islam . . . . Perhaps it would be good to ask here for concrete examples how these modern scholars have indeed corrected the violent version of Islam. And who are the scholars that the people must listen to? You said, above, that the preachers of hate merely express personal opinions, but then you say that they need to listen to the scholars. Are the preachers listening to them, and why should they? If even the preachers do not listen to them, on what basis can we expect that the common Saudi Muslim on the street would listen to them? The question in the end is: Who has the authority to bring correction in Islam? Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that Islamic scholars can correct the ignorance and false belief. As noted, if modern Islam has improved on original Islam (found in the Quran and the Sunnah), then this is a welcome change. I hope it is broadcast far and wide. Addendum Our friend and colleague has translated parts of a fatwa by bin Baz, a major sheikh and the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, i.e. the highest religious authority of your country. It is clear that jihad is not only defensive. Translation: Jihad is not for defense only Many modern writers are confused in regards to the issue of Jihad. And many of them have dealt with his topic without any knowledge, and thought that jihad was decreed only to defend Islam and the followers of Islam, and that jihad was not ordained for Muslims to attack their enemies’ land, and either to invite them to accept Islam or to fight them until Allah’s word and his religion prevail. Since this was the case, I thought of covering this topic in my lecture tonight which I titled: Jihad is not for defense only. … Since Muhammad’s message was for the whole inhabitants of the earth of the jinn and humans, and since Allah sent him with a sharia (law) which is suitable for all people during his time and after his time, until the day of resurrection… … And since all messengers before Muhammad were sent as mercy to their people, to teach them and guide them, and to eliminate unjust laws and corruption, and to implement in its place the law of justice. In the same way Allah sent Muhammad – saw – too to destroy the corrupt systems of society, crooked values, and injustice,; and to replace them with a righteous system and just commandments…

… When the Messenger was in Mecca for thirteen years….there were no commands to fight his people because the Muslims were few and their enemies were more powerful and outnumbered them. So it was wise for Allah to prevent his messenger and the Muslims from physical jihad by hand, and only allowed them spiritual jihad by words…. (Sura 25:52) … And when the messenger immigrated to Madina, Allah ordered him to cleanse it from corruption and corrupted people, and to build it with righteous people…and Allah gave permission to him and his companions to fight in Jihad as it was revealed in (Sura 22:39). In this verse Allah permitted them to fight in jihad because they were being treated unjustly; then Allah ordered and commanded Jihad in (Sura 2:216), and Allah made it a duty and revealed many other verses in this regard and ordered it in his great book (the Quran) and through his prophet, so it was first permitted and allowed; then it became a sufficient duty as said by scholars. … As for Sura 2:190 some said this verse was a command to Muhammad to fight only those who fought him, and to cease fighting those who did not fight him; other said about this verse. There is nothing in this verse which indicates this meaning; rather it has a command to fight those who are fighting him – meaning those who deserve to be fought against…etc. … And the later interpretation is clearer in regards to the meaning of the verse. This is why Allah said in few verses later (Sura 2:193), so it was known by this verse that the meaning is for Muhammad to fight the infidels and not just those who are fighting against him only. It meant the infidels as a whole until the religion (Islam) should be only for Allah, and there should be no more hostility except against the oppressors, and the oppression is the Shirk. Then Allah revealed the Sword Verse in Sura 9 (9:5). And the former scholars (may Allah’s mercy be up on them) said this verse abrogated all of the previous verses which contained forgiveness and no fighting against the infidels. They said the Sword Verse is the verse of fighting, the verse of jihad, the verse which calls out to roll up our sleeves and to fight the enemies of Allah with our money and body, until they repent of their Shirk and perform the prayer and give the Zakat (alms), so if they did then they have sealed (protected) their blood and their monies by the truth of Islam. This is what we know about this verse from all of the people of knowledge of the commentators and non-commentators, all of them said this verse has abrogated what came before it of those verses that contained commands for forgiveness or fighting only those who fight against us…and similar to it are Sura 8:39 … and Sura 9:36 and Sura 9:29, as Allah commanded fighting against the People of the Book and did not command to cease fighting against them unless they pay the poll tax with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. And Allah did not say until they give us the poll tax and then stop fighting us, but rather Allah said they pay the poll tax with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. … And in Sura 9:5 and 9:11 it is clear that Muslims should not stop fighting against the infidels until they repent of their shirk and accept Allah’s religion (Islam). Those are the ones that Muslims should cease fighting against, but as for the People of the Book, cessation of fighting does not take place until they pay the poll tax with submission; only then do we cease fighting against them even if they did not become Muslims. Some scholars stated that the Sword Verse did not abrogate the previous verses, but rather the times will change, so when Muslims are strong and gain control and power, then they can use

the Sword Verse and apply its meaning in fighting all the infidels until they enter into Allah’s religion (Islam) or pay the poll tax in general or only by the People of the Book. But if the Muslims become weak and are unable to fight all of the infidels, then there is no problem for them to fight as they can, and to cease fighting as they see fit. And the ruler should be the one who makes such a call, if he wills he can fight, or not to fight, or to fight some and not the others based on their strength, ability and the best interest of Muslims, and not based on their own desires or choosing. But he must evaluate the condition of the Muslim people and the state of their power and strength. If the Muslims were weak, then he can use the Meccan verses…, but when they become strong then they should fight based on their strength…just as the prophet did in Mecca and in Medina. And if the Muslims gain power, control, strength and weapons that allows them to fight all of the infidels, then they should declare an all-out battle (Harb) against all of them, and declare jihad against all of them, just as the companions of the prophet did during the reign of Al Sadiq (Abu Bakr), Umar, and Uthman, and as the messenger of Allah did after the Sword Verse was revealed when he marched to Tabuk to fight the Romans. And this is what Ibn Taimiah said: "There is no abrogation but different situations. As the Muslims were weak in the beginning so they were ordered to only fight those who fought them. But when they became stronger after the Hijra, they were ordered to go after those who fought them and to not fight those who did not fight them. But when Islam became very strong and the followers of Islam became stronger, and Muslims spread all over and people accepted Islam in scores, they were commanded to fight all of the infidels, to negate all treaties and not to stop fighting except against the People of the Book, provided they paid the poll tax with submission, and feel themselves subdued. … As for those who say that the fighting is for defense only, their claim is something which none of the former scholars ascribe to. ... But some of the brethren wrote articles to respond to this claim. They stated that what is known about the messenger of Allah after his immigration to Medina; fighting was made lawful to him, period; then jihad was made a commandment to him and he was ordered to fight those who fight him and cease from those who did not fight him. Then Allah revealed to him more verses which ordered him to fight in jihad without any exception, and not to cease from fighting anyone until he or she accepts Islam or pay the poll tax if he or she is qualified for it, as noted previously. This is what is known and accepted among scholars or people of knowledge. … Those who claim that jihad is only for defense rely on verses that cannot be used to substantiate their claim. These people use three verses to support their claim: The first is Sura 2:190 The answer to that is that this verse does not mean that fighting is for defense, but rather it is a command for fighting to those who are capable of fighting, and leave behind those who are not capable, such as women and children and the like. That is why Allah sent a few verse down Sura 2:193, clearly refuting their claim about Sura 2:190. And even if what they said is true, this verse has been abrogated by the Sword Verse anyway.

The second verse they use to support their claim is Sura 2:256. This claim is not valid either; as this verse was specifically mentioned of the People of the Book and the like, as they will not be forced to enter into Islam if they choose to pay the poll tax. This is one interpretation of the meaning of this verse. The second interpretation states that this verse also was abrogated by the Sword Verse…. And if they refuse Islam and pay the poll tax, then they must be fought as noted in the previous glorious verses. The third verse they use to support this claim is Sura 4:90. This was true when the Muslims were weak until they immigrated to Medina. Then it was abrogated by the Sword Verse. Also it can be interpreted that it applies only when Muslims are weak, but once they are strong, then it is not valid as it was stated in the other verses. All of this shows that their claim is completely invalid. End of translation This link goes to the writings of Abdul Wahhaab.

Please continue the dialogue with Part Nine.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (9)
Soliman al-Buthe (or al-Buthi) wrote an Open Letter to Congress in 2005. Then he initiated a dialogue with me, so we decided on this sequence. 1. In 2005, I commented and asked questions about the Open Letter (in blue). 2. Months later in that same year, Mr. al-Buthe answered my questions and challenged me on various issues (in green). He sought the advice of Saudi scholars, as well. 3. Finally, in 2006, I reply to his challenges and questions (in black). Sometimes I embed this portion in our 2005 dialogue. I too receive help from colleagues. Open Letter to Congress (continued): Peace in the Middle East The just resolution of the Palestinian issue is pivotal to solving many of the problems we witness today. The scholars of Saudi Arabia have always been concerned with the issue, and the Kingdom’s rulers have long sought to resolve the matter; Crown Prince

Abdullah’s 2002 peace offer is the latest example. Once the Palestinian issue is solved, the many other issues that separate the United States from the Islamic world will fade away. JA (2005): Here is a link to Crown Prince Abdullah’s proposal, with further links to UN Resolutions 242 and 338. Does this link accurately summarize the Prince’s proposal? 1. The Prince’s proposal says that Israel must withdraw to its 1967 borders. But here is my assessment not only the [sic] of the Prince’s proposal but also of the Arab world’s proposals, which follows a sequence. First, the Arabs attack Israel in three wars (1948-49, 1967, 1973). Second, Israel beats back their attackers and acquires new territory. Third and finally, the Arabs run to the United Nations to get the Israelis to withdraw from the acquired territories. For example, after the 1967 war, UN Res. 242 seems to say that Israel should withdraw from all territories acquired by that war. After the 1973 war, UN Res. 338 says that Israel, Egypt and Syria should cease all hostilities and implement Res. 242. Also, the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 required Israel to give up most of the Sinai Peninsula, which they won during the 1967 war. 2. Does my brief analysis of the big picture seem accurate to you? 3. If the Arab States that launched three wars against Israel had victoriously acquired territories, would Crown Prince Abdullah and other Arab leaders ask the Arab States to give up the acquired territories, as they ask the Israelis to give up theirs? 4. As to theology and geopolitics, why do Muslims claim Jerusalem as their city even though Muhammad never visited it in a down-to-earth way (Sura 17:1 and 60)? Do you agree that Jews have a better claim to the city since they lived there long before Islam came on the scene? Or does Islam take priority over history? SaB (2005): The Israeli-Palestine conflict is one created by the superpowers and will continue to be a subject for discussion and debate within and among all of the sides to the conflict. Westerners unfortunately often ignore and neglect critical historical facts underlying the conflict. The West, and particularly the United States, has shown unwavering, overwhelming bias in support of Israel and against the Palestinians. Not until the historical facts are learned and the "facts on the ground" are understood can one understand the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Such an examination also will probably give some insight into why young men and women are willing to sacrifice their lives in an attempt to liberate their land. It is not difficult for Americans to get a more balanced view of the conflict; indeed, there are hundreds of Israeli pro-Palestinian groups, numerous anti-Zionist Israeli organizations, and scores if not hundreds of culturally diverse NGOs around the world who recognize and speak out against Israeli policy. Please see:
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Israeli State Terrorism; http://www.israel-state-terrorism.org/ Yesh Gvul – Israeli Refusenik Soldiers; http://www.yeshgvul.org/ Jewish Voices for Peace; http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/

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Bat Shalom: Feminist Center for Peace in the Middle East; http://www.batshalom.org/ MIFTAH: The Palestinian Initiative of Global Dialogue..; http://www.miftah.org/ B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights; http://www.btselem.org/ Not In My Name; http://www.nimn.org/ Oznik; http://oznik.com/ Ta’ayush; http://www.taayush.org/ Palestine Media Center; http://www.palestine-pmc.com/ Weekly Report of Human Rights Violations; http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article3099.shtml Combatant Letter 2002 - Israeli Soldier (IDF) Refusniks; http://www.seruv.org.il/defaulteng.asp Palestine Media Watch; http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/index.asp Courage to Refuse - Israeli Refusers Support Site; http://www.couragetorefuse.org/English/default.asp Partners for Peace; http://www.partnersforpeace.org/ Peace Now!: Israeli Peace Organization; http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/he/homepage.asp Physicians for Human Rights; http://www.phrusa.org/ Electronic Intifada; http://electronicintifada.net/new.shtml Rescue Mideast Policy; http://www.rescuemideastpolicy.com/index.html Global Exchange for Palestinian Rights; http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/palestine/ Gush Shalom: Israeli Peace Bloc; http://www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html Gush Shalom: Presentation of Ehud Barak’s Generous Offers of Peace; http://www.gush-shalom.org/media/barak_eng.swf The Other Israel; http://otherisrael.home.igc.org/ International Action Center; http://www.iacenter.org/ Amnesty International: The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel; http://www.amnesty.org/results/is/eng Jews Against the Occupation; http://www.jatonyc.org/ Jews Against the Occupation: UN Resolutions against Israel; http://www.jatonyc.org/UNresolutions.html Jewish Virtual Library: US Vetoes of UN Resolutions Critical to Israel; http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes Jews for Justice in the Middle East; http://www.cactus48.com United Nations Maps Related to Palestine; http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/vMaps Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel; http://www.jppi.org/ UNRWA: UN Relief and Works for Palestine Refugees; http://www.un.org/unrwa/index.html Jews Not Zionists; http://www.jewsnotzionists.org/ Palestine Monitor: Palestinians Killed Fact Sheet; http://www.palestinemonitor.org/factsheet/Palestinian_killed_fact_sheet.htm Palestine: Permanent Observer Mission to the UN (includes all the UN resolutions against Israel); http://palestine-un.org/ Historical Chronology: Israeli Massacres Against Palestinians; http://www.allaahuakbar.net/jew/israeli_massacres.htm

By the same token, there are no Arab/Muslim "anti-Arab" or "anti-Muslim" groups. (There are two fraudulent groups that lurk under assumed Arab names, but they’ve long been established as neo-conservative fronts for propaganda.)

There appears to be a willing blindness in the United States to the plight of the Palestinians. Recent research establishes that the American media pays far more attention to losses suffered by Israelis than by Palestinians (Israel and Palestine, Choosing Sides). I strongly believe that no reconciliation is possible between the West and the East until the West at least addresses the wrongs inflicted by its unstinting support for the persecution of the Palestinians. Without justice there can be no peace, and the road to peace runs through Jerusalem, not Baghdad. JA (2006): I divide my response into five sections that address your main ideas. 1. Unanswered questions In my first and second points, written in 2005, I was responding to the part of your Open Letter that refers to Crown Prince Abdullah’s 2002 peace offer. It requires Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, which denies its rightful ownership over a united Jerusalem. Then I outlined UN Resolutions that demand that Israel always give up territory that it wins after being attacked. Israel does indeed give up most of it, as seen in the Israel-Egypt Treaty of Peace of 1979 and Israel’s surrender of the Sinai Peninsula. Anwar Sadat was "rewarded" with assassination. The recent election victory of the Terrorist Party of Hamas proves that peace is not at hand and that too many Palestinians do not want peace. Hamas is not their answer. Further, in my first and second questions, I sketched out the brief history of the conflict since Israel became a legal nation in 1948. (1) Israel is aggressively attacked. (2) It wins back its historic land, which it owned before Islam arrived on the world stage and before the Palestinians gradually, over the centuries, drifted from East of the Jordan River (modern Jordan) into Israel. (3) The defeated Arabs run to the UN, demanding this institution to force Israel to give back its historic lands, which it regained after defeating aggressive Muslims. In my third question I asked whether the Arabs would return the lands if they won the three wars of 1948-1949, 1967, and 1973. In my fourth point, I ask why Islam claims a hold on Jerusalem, even though Muhammad never visited it in a down-to-earth way except in an alleged "revelation" or "vision" or "night journey" in one night. See this article written by myself on the topic of Islam’s weak claim to Jerusalem. Instead of answering my questions directly, you create a long list of links that are anti-Israel, showing how wrong it always is and how right the Palestinians always are. This list does not educate me on the historical facts. 2. A list of other facts Here is a list of facts that your links may omit. It comes from an article by Dennis Prager, syndicated radio talk show host and author. He writes: For the many readers who have requested a brief synopsis of the moral arguments in the Arab-Israeli conflict, I offer the following list of numerical data.

Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Old Testament: over 700 Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran: 0 Number of Arab leaders who visited Jerusalem when it was under Arab rule (1948 to 1967): 1 Number of Arab refugees who fled the land that became Israel: approximately 600,000 Number of Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries: approximately 600,000 Number of U.N. agencies that deal only with Palestinian refugees: 1 Number of U.N. agencies that deal with all the other refugees in the world: 1 Number of Jewish states that have existed on the land called Palestine: 3 Number of Arab or Muslim states that have existed on the land called Palestine: 0 Number of terrorist attacks by Israelis or Jews since 1967: 1 Number of terrorist attacks by Arabs or Muslims since 1967: thousands Percentage of Jews who have praised the Jewish terrorist: approximately 1 Percentage of Palestinians who have praised Islamic terrorists: approximately 90 Number of Jewish countries: 1 Number of Jewish democracies: 1 Number of Arab countries: 19 Number of Arab democracies: 0 [I add: Maybe Iraq will develop into a full-fledged democracy] . . . Number of Christian or Jewish prayer services allowed in Saudi Arabia: 0 Number of Muslim prayer services allowed in Israel: unlimited Number of Arabs Israel allows to live in Arab settlements in Israel: 1,250,000 Number of Jews Palestinian Authority allows to live in Jewish settlements in Palestinian Authority: 0 Percentage of U.N. Commission on Human Rights resolutions condemning an Arab country for human rights violations: 0 Percentage of U.N. Commission on Human Rights resolutions condemning Israel for human rights violations: 26 Number of U.N. Security Council resolutions on the Middle East between 1948 and 1991: 175 Number of these resolutions against Israel: 97 Number of these resolutions against an Arab state: 4 Number of Arab countries that have been members of the U.N. Security Council: 16 Number of times Israel has been a member of the U.N. Security Council: 0 Number of U.N. General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel: 322 Number of U.N. General Assembly resolutions condemning an Arab country: 0

Percentage of U.N. votes in which Arab countries voted with the United States in 2002: 16.6 Percentage of U.N. votes in which Israel voted with the United States in 2002: 92.6 .... These numbers reveal four things. First, Israel stands virtually alone in the world, except for US support. Second, the United Nations is filled with non- and anti-democratic states. Third, it is also occupied by anti-American and anti-Jewish left-of-center and hard leftist western states. Fourth, Israel is outnumbered by anti-Jewish and anti-Israel Islamic nations. Therefore, many of us in America, usually right-of center, mistrust the UN, except when it feeds the hungry or passes a resolution that says a nation is being harassed. But what good is a resolution? What good is its "army"? The following additional facts are relevant, as well. (1) Thousands of Arab Muslims live in Israel, peacefully. (2) The Israeli government does not destroy their homes. (3) Arab Muslims are elected to the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament). (4) Arab Christians living in the Palestinians Territories do not become human bombs because of the alleged Israeli "oppression." (5) Arab Christians live under Muslim oppression in towns like Bethlehem. (6) Wherever Islam comes, it must rule. If it once ruled over a city or region, such as Jerusalem after Umar’s conquest in AD 638, then Muslims must take it over again, if lost. Is this belief not the source of problems? Is it not viewed as a great humiliation in the Arab world that Allah would permit the Jews to return to their historic capital and land? Is it possible that Allah wills that the Jews should return? 3. Hamas as oppressors The fifth point needs to be elaborated. This following excerpt from Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad by Matthew Levitt (Yale UP, 2006), reports that Hamas, in conjunction with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), intimidates the Christian population in Bethlehem. Hamas is the "muscle," and WAMY is the money. . . . But the Palestinian Christian community is as much a target of Hamas’ efforts to Islamize society . . . In Bethlehem, where about a quarter of the local population (some 40,000 people) is composed of Palestinian Christians, Hamas actively seeks to marginalize and intimidate the Christian population and further radicalize the Muslim population. To this end, the Saudi world Assembly of Youth (WAMY) funded a Koranic memorization program run by the Bethlehem branch of Hamas’ al-Islah Charity Society. In a letter asking that WAMY’s funding for this program continue, the al-Islah charity makes a point of noting that a considerable percentage of Christians live in an area "with their customs and traditions, the exposure to which has significant influence on society." The charity asks for continued funding for the program, which is intended to "correct" the behavior of Muslim youth "which is growing lax." (p. 118) The excerpt says that the customs and traditions of the Bethlehem Christians have "a significant influence on society." Personally, I hope they bring peace and sanity to that part of the world. However, Levitt goes on to describe how radicalized Muslims in Bethlehem

subject Christians to extortion and unwarranted arrest of businessmen to coerce bribes. Perhaps Hamas regards this as a kind of jizya tax for second-class dhimmis. So does Hamas behave like "oppressors" and "bullies"? You seem to believe that Israel behaves in this way. Is your contempt also directed at Muslims like Hamas? 4. Questions about fairness You write in your Open Letter: The just resolution of the Palestinian issue is pivotal to solving many of the problems we witness today. The scholars of Saudi Arabia have always been concerned with the issue . . . It is unclear (to me, at least) why the little country of Israel, surrounded by an entire ocean of hate—millions of Arabs (and Persians, for that matter)—gets them so stirred up, when they are not directly affected by such matters. I do not understand why Muslims, even scholars in Saudi Arabia, will not let go of a land that is not theirs to begin with and that belonged to the Jews long before Islam began a thousand miles to the south. Should Israel return to its pre-1967 borders, which would deny them a united Jerusalem? In reply, should Saudi Arabia allow Jews and Christians to return to their historic home in the Peninsula, before the Hijrah in AD 622 (Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina)? Before Islam came, Jews thrived in Medina and elsewhere, and the Christians thrived in the south and north in the Peninsula, in present-day Saudi Arabia. Now they are nowhere to be found because the few Christians who are left or who have moved to the land of the Two Holy Mosques are hiding in their homes. If Saudi Arabia is unwilling to permit this "right of return" to Christians and Jews, then on what basis does it demand that Israel give the Palestinians the pre-1967 borders? In that case why cannot Jews and Christians demand that Saudi Arabia give back their land that it conquered on the Peninsula, by AD 644, the end of Umar’s Caliphate? Are Jews and Christians so unclean that they are not permitted to enter the city limits of Mecca (I omit a discussion of the precinct of the Kabah shrine itself)? This seems like prejudice of the worst kind. What if the Israeli government forced all gentiles from Jerusalem or their entire Holy Land, as Muhammad and Umar did to Jews and Christians in Arabia, and Saudis still do today, particularly in Mecca? Saudi Arabia is much larger than little Israel. However, since Israel is compatible with modernity, it does not make these demands. Further, I do not understand why Jordan (the historic home of the Palestinians) does not relinquish a part of its huge country to them, so they can build their own nation. However, I prefer to live in the real world, so I will not wait for Jordan’s offer. Regardless of the specific geography and the fight over small territories (Israel is no bigger than New Jersey, one of the smallest states in the US), why do not the Palestinians build their own country as prosperously and successfully as Israel has done? Where have all the billions of dollars in financial aid from western and Islamic governments disappeared? Corruption in the Palestinian Authority and Fatah? Will Hamas remain uncorrupted (if it ever were)?

Maybe if the Palestinians focused on solving their own internal problems and lack of economic development, they would not have time to worry so much about Israeli "oppression." Does anyone of a sound mind, which has not been clouded by bitterness, believe that the Israeli government would randomly attack a peaceful and prosperous Palestinian state, just for sport or a matter of policy? Though it may be difficult to believe, Israel wants to live in peace. Israeli fathers and mothers would like their children to grow up to be professionals, not human bombs. Israel has time and again offered to give up most of its territories or in fact has given them up. It completely turned over Gaza to the Palestinians. It gave up south Lebanon in 2000. But every time it capitulates for peace, it gets slapped in the face or gets Qassam rockets fired in its direction. But it simply cannot give up Jerusalem united, its historic capital. Other nations squabbled over borders as the nations were being established. For example, Mexico and the US fought a war in the middle of the nineteenth century. The US paid compensation to the Mexican government. But do Mexicans strap on bombs and blow themselves up in a US shopping mall or on crowded busses? China raped Tibet. Does any Tibetan strap on a bomb and kill innocent Chinese? The list of border disputes and conflicts is endless. Why do only Muslims kill innocents, believing that they as "human bomb martyrs" will go to Islamic heaven? If Islam as a religion is not to be blamed entirely, can it be excused entirely? Why does Islam alone control the privilege of dictating terms and calling this or that piece of land holy? That question applies especially to Saudi Arabia. Why do only a few people in the West ever question Islam’s pushy geopolitical and religious demands? It is high time we did this. We Westerners should stop the self-loathing and understand that Islam is also imperialistic, up to right now. It does not suffer from self-loathing. Further, why are Islamic nations obsessed with a piece of real estate, the land of the Jews, when Muslims have vast lands of their own and the Kabah? Muhammad never visited Jerusalem, and the name of the city never appears in the Quran, even in the so-called "Night Journey," which no one can verify independently outside of a "revelation" that somehow materially benefits Islam. This "revelation" has stirred up too much trouble. Finally, you say that "the road to peace runs through Jerusalem, not Baghdad." In reply, Jerusalem and Baghdad aside, the road to peace leads through the human heart. Too much hatred of Jews preoccupies the Arab world. This hatred has produced blindness and needless obsession. 5. The Media on Israel After your long list of links, you say that the Western news media "pays far more attention to losses suffered by Israelis than by Palestinians." This is so untrue. All I ever hear from the media is how oppressive Israel is and helpless the Palestinians are. Consider the latest incursion in the Gaza Strip. I heard that the Israeli military planned to rescue a soldier, but I had not heard on television or radio news about Qassam rockets that the Palestinians had launched into Israel on a (near) daily basis—after Israel dismantled the settlements in Gaza. If the Kuwaitis fired rockets into Saudi Arabia, or Saudi Shi’ites did this to a Saudi Sunni community, would the Sunni government of Saudi Arabia sit idly by? In the same way, these Palestinian rocket launches are acts of aggression, even war. I repeat: these rockets were

launched after Israel withdrew completely from Gaza. Note how the Palestinians did not wave good-bye to the withdrawing Israelis and then turn around and say, "Let’s roll up our sleeves and build a prosperous Gaza!" No, the real problem, according to the Palestinians, is the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. The same goes for the leader of Hezbollah who calls it a tumor in the body of Islam—note how he assumes that the land belongs to Islam. Consider the tragedy at Qana in south Lebanon, where children died from an Israeli missile strike in the middle of the night. Curiously, the Red Crescent was not notified until 7:00 in the morning. The building did not collapse until many hours after the strike. Next, why does Hezbollah use humans as shields? Why does it fire its rockets or other weapons from populated neighborhoods? According to legal scholars, indiscriminant attacks, such as using badly aimed weapons, are against international law. Israel (and the US) works hard at avoiding civilian casualties. They have developed precision-guided weapons. Do Hamas and Hezbollah works as hard? No. Do the mainstream news media report this and other suspicious facts? No. Israel tries to destroy the military potential of Hezbollah, its rockets, and their launching pads. Because Hezbollah places them mostly in civilian neighborhoods, it is very hard to avoid civilian deaths. And consider this: Hezbollah launches its rockets almost exclusively into civilian neighborhoods in Israel. They are aimed randomly, whereas Israel tries hard to pinpoint their targets. Hezbollah does not even target the Israeli military; they only try to create terror by killing civilians. Where is the outcry against this? And the Palestinian rockets and suicide bombers are the same. Their targets are nearly always only civilian. Why are the news reports and worldwide condemnation so unevenly distributed? So your assertion that the news media pay more attention to the losses suffered by Israelis than by Palestinians and Muslim organizations and peoples is inaccurate. The worldwide media are made up mostly of left-of-center reporters, journalists, writers, and editors. This means that they focus on the plight of the poor v. the rich, the weak v. the strong, the powerless v. the powerful, and the marginal v. the privileged. The media’s concern is not so much for the truth or facts. In the eyes of the media, the Palestinians are poor, weak, powerless, and marginal. The media’s leftward stance means, in turn, that they favor the Palestinians over the Israeli "oppressors" and "bullies." However, the media wrongly overlook the fact that little Israel struggles for its existence in an ocean of hatred, including the President of Iran, who says that Israel needs to be "wiped off the map." If you were an Israeli (and you could keep your Islam in Israel), would you believe that you were threatened? What if Iran said this about Saudi Arabia and then said it was seeking nuclear technology (read: nuclear weapons)? Moreover, does a national Israeli TV network broadcast programs like this one seen on national IQRA TV in Saudi Arabia? The link has interviews with "the man on the street." Every one of them despises Jews and would not even shake their hand. The Jews are the "eternal enemies," say two Muslims. Saudis or not, Wahhabis or not, these interviews were aired on Saudi national TV and fuel the fire of "Jew hatred" in your country. For now, the above link has a further one that is broadcast in Arabic. Please inform MEMRI if there is a mistranslation, as you assert generally in Part Ten about this organization that actually provides a valuable service.

I repeat the question: Does Israel broadcast such venom and hatred on national TV? No. It is compatible with modernity. Maybe such Arab TV programs stir up hatred in ordinary Muslims who really do not care about Jerusalem or Israel or the Palestinians. Maybe average Muslims would like to live in peace and prosperity, which are too often denied in Islamic nations, especially when shariah (Islamic law)—brutal and excessive by its very nature—is followed closely and applied literally. The next part is the last one in our dialogue: Part Ten.

A Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (10)
Part Ten concludes our dialogue. Soliman al-Buthe (or al-Buthi) wrote an Open Letter to Congress in 2005. Then he initiated a dialogue with me, so we decided on this sequence. 1. In 2005, I commented and asked questions about the Open Letter (in blue). 2. Months later in that same year, Mr. al-Buthe answered my questions and challenged me on various issues (in green). He sought the advice of Saudi scholars, as well. 3. Finally, in 2006, I reply to his challenges and questions (in black). Sometimes I embed this portion in our 2005 dialogue. I too receive help from colleagues. Open Letter to Congress (continued): Charities Claims that Saudi charities either deliberately or inadvertently fund al-Qaeda ignore the fundamental tenet of charitable giving in Islam. "Zakat," or charity, is one of the five pillars of Islam; it requires the giving of 2½ percent one’s assets that have been held for one year to be to a narrow class of needy persons. Due to its importance to the faith, Muslims and Muslim leaders strictly enforce where their charitable donations go. Rather than work with Saudi and other Muslim charities to ensure transparency, accountability, and best practices, the United States has imposed counter-productive measures on Saudis beyond that which even their own citizens would tolerate. These measures include ending collection boxes for the needy, consolidating all charities and charity bank accounts into a single agency, the implementing rules that encourage if not require legitimate charities to consider going underground. Furthermore, the common United States practice of freezing charities’ and charitable officials’ bank accounts based upon secret evidence only serves to reinforce the image of ending faith-based giving rather than truly rooting out the evils of terror finance. JA (2005): Dore Gold in his book Hatred’s Kingdom proposes this sequence of events that to an outsider makes sense (pp. 197-203):

1. On October 21-22, 2000 Crown Prince Abdullah addressed an Arab summit, in which he proposed the following for the children of Palestinian martyrs: I would like also to announce that the people of Saudi Arabia, headed by the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, shall undertake to sponsor and support one thousand Palestinian families of the martyred and wounded in the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Is this the beginning of the al-Quds fund? SaB (2005): Mr. Dore Gold intentionally misleads his readers in that he claims Saudi Arabia "sponsors" the families. He implies that the Kingdom agrees with and supports the suicide bombers themselves; this is not the case. Saudi Arabia and most other countries know that, under Israel’s illegal use of "collective punishment," the Israeli war machine will devastate the entire family in retaliation for a bomber’s actions. To Israel, it is not enough that the family loses a son or daughter; the Israeli government instantly and without recourse or trial assumes the entire family to be responsible and proceeds to raze their house within hours. Thus if twelve members of a family are living under one roof, all will become homeless. When the home is destroyed, the family has nothing. Saudi Arabia sees its obligation under Islam to take care of the innocent poor and needy; the family having just lost a home without insurance to back them up becomes needy. Saudi Arabia thus properly steps in to help in such cases. We truly believe that, no matter the cause, we support the needy and poor. JA (2006): First, we have some confusion. The link to the excerpted words of Crown Prince Abdullah shows that they are not translated by Dore Gold, but by an Arab website that seeks to introduce non-Muslims to Islam. Second, you write that Israel will "devastate the entire family" (your emphasis). In reply, thousands of Palestinian Muslims live within Israel, but their homes are not devastated. Generally, they do not commit acts of terrorism. They live in a free and prosperous nation, so they can become free and prosperous. Also, Israel put up a fence to respond to the Intifada, and the acts of terrorism dropped dramatically. Israel therefore did not randomly destroy Palestinian homes. Does anyone of a sound mind really believe that Israel would destroy homes of peaceful Palestinians as a matter of policy or sport? Third, in the well-researched and scholarly Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad by Matthew Levitt (Yale UP, 2006), the author explains Israel’s position on destroying the homes of terrorists. Among the radical Palestinians, terrorism is a family affair. Some children look forward to the day when they can strap on bombs to fight for the cause. However, as this excerpt reveals, they need proper training. An Israeli Security Agency (ISA) report in 2004 identified a 64 percent increase in the number of minors involved in terrorism compared to 2003. Gaza psychologist Fadl Abu Hein has lamented, "Martyrdom has become an ambition for our children. If they had a proper education in a normal environment, they won’t have looked for a value in death." Because they see Palestinian children as legitimate tools in their fight against Israel, Hamas leaders openly discuss how children should be trained and incorporated into the group. On May 26, 2002, Salah Shehadah, a founder of the Hamas military wing, stated in an interview on the Islam Online website that children should be properly trained prior to the execution of

terrorist attacks, and that they should be enlisted in a special branch of the military arm of the organization. (p. 110) Israel would like to send a message that families should not support their own children in terrorism. Levitt goes on to list some of the family members who blew themselves up or committed other violent acts (p. 123). And this fact should also be repeated. Thousands of Palestinian Muslims live in Israel, peacefully. The Israeli government does not destroy their homes simply because they are Palestinians. Rather, there must be a cause and effect, as follows. First, the young terrorist strikes (after leaving a videotaped message and receiving great honor from his family). That’s the cause. Then Israel responds. That’s the effect. One could assert that the first cause is Israeli "oppression," but this has already been answered in Part Nine. The Palestinians should get on with the business of building, as Israel has done, a prosperous society with all of the aid money that they receive from the western governments and the charities you extol, below. The bottom line on destroying the homes that encourage and breed terrorism: Israel itself should decide on how it must survive as an island in a sea of Islamic nations that hate it. Many would like to see it destroyed completely. JA (2005) 2. On April 11, 2002, Saudi Arabia held a telethon and raised 109 million dollars for "Palestinian martyrs." Saudi spokesman Adal al-Jubeir denies that the money was supporting suicide bombers or terrorist organizations like Hamas. Even if we assume, only for the sake of argument that the money was not going to a slush fund to support Hamas or suicide bombers, is it not clear that this money at least supports the effects or aftermath of suicide bombings, and it therefore supports its origins? SaB (2005): The problem here is the style of your question: you have already assumed that, "for the sake of argument" (therefore placing the burden of proof upon me), a "slush fund" was created, implying a cover-up. How does one prove a negative? It seems that your argument is that evil will come from covert monies are connected to Saudi Arabia because nothing good can come from our people. In fact, the funds you mention were directed toward the families who suffered substantial loss and had no means to get back on their feet. If those families have no way of meeting their living expenses, we recognize that other members of their family may become angry and even more hostile towards the Israeli government. We try and support innocent children and families in part in order to avoid this perpetual cycle. We want small children to have food, and the elderly to have shelter. It is the West that concludes that assistance to the needy and homeless has to equate to support for the bombers themselves. Saudi Arabia does not support the bombers; rather, it supports the victims. It is part of Islam that we give charity. JA (2006): Again, we have a misunderstanding. My hypothetical scenario assumes that money does not go to terrorist organizations or to slush funds. So the assumption, for a moment, supports your claim that the money goes only to poor and deprived Palestinian families. Next, I am convinced that the best way to avoid the cycle of violence is for the Palestinians to lay aside their hostility and their bitterness at losing Jerusalem and portions of the historic homeland of the Jews—see Part Nine and the list of facts gathered by Dennis Prager. And the Palestinians should instead develop their economy and preach from the mosques and teach in the schools the message of love and reconciliation instead of hatred and

the twisted love of death and martyrdom. Many people in many societies are oppressed, but they do not become human bombs. SaB (2005): As for the funds actually raised for the purposes discussed above, their collection and distribution was completely transparent. The United States government has accepted this purpose. It is only people like Gold who wish to ignore those facts in order to perpetuate his hatred of the Kingdom (that he has never visited). JA (2006): It is not clear, as you assert in your long paragraph above your immediate one here, that "Saudi Arabia does not support the bombers; rather, it supports the victims." Moreover, it is not clear that the US government has accepted this purpose and transparency. First, a long publication by Freedom House on the ideology of hate from Saudi Arabia says that in 2004 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the Saudi Haramain charity organization because it channeled money directly to al-Qaeda. Saudi authorities agreed on shutting it down, as well (here is the quick synopsis of the long report). Did action like this prompt these words in your Open Letter? "Claims that Saudi charities either deliberately or inadvertently fund al-Qaeda ignore the fundamental tenet of charitable giving in Islam." In reply, the point is not so much the motive of zakat or charity, but the direction or recipient of the charities. Second, as to my point about Saudi spokesman Adal al-Jubeir, Levitt in his book (cited above) reports that in 2002 Saudi Arabia promised to crack down on support for Hamas. However, Adal al-Jubeir admits that money still goes to the "political wing" (as opposed to the militant wing) of Hamas (p. 191). What happens to the money after it goes to the political wing? Can anyone prove that it is not transferred, at least in part, to the militant wing? Third, Levitt further says Saudi Arabia produces mixed results on fundraising for Hamas: A 2004 Council on Foreign Relations report on terror financing notes Saudi progress in the war on terror financing, but adds that "in Saudi Arabia, whose people and organization may contribute as much as 60 percent of Hamas’ budget, the government still does recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization, notwithstanding important recent steps, such as the announced cessation of official efforts to raise money for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers." (p. 193). If Saudi Arabia has not declared Hamas a terrorist organization, then why would the Saudi donors not give to it? So the question is—why has Saudi Arabia not declared it a terrorist organization? SaB (2005): A final point on the Palestinian issue: Have you personally ever visited the West Bank or Gaza? Have you spent even one minute living the life of a Palestinian in occupied Palestine. I know Americans who have – and who have returned from that ordeal with a festering hatred in their hearts for their government’s blind support of continued Israeli oppression. I would be happy to put you in touch with any number of them at your request. JA 2006): It is a pity that Americans have come back from Gaza with "festering hatred in their hearts." The road to peace goes through the human heart, but hatred will block peace. If I were to meet these Americans, I would tell them to get the hate purged out. I would tell them to go back to Gaza and preach on the streets that the Palestinians should spend the

billions they receive in financial aid from western and Islamic governments on building a prosperous society, as Israel has done. The Palestinians should also get the hatred purged out. It does them no good. It is a cause of violence. Assuming they would not get murdered by radical Palestinians, these Americans should preach everywhere in the Palestinian Territories that mosques and schools should promote peace and reconciliation, not the virtue of martyrdom and a death cult. These Americans should tell the Palestinian authorities that they should produce TV programs that say that Jews are not descended from apes and pigs. Jews are humans too. These Americans should tell the Palestinian authorities to fire or sack, for example, Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris, who appears on national Palestinian TV spewing "Jew hatred" and his prediction that Islam will rule the world, even America, and rid the world of Jews. Most pro-Palestinian American protesters are hard leftists, and they value gay rights. They should march through the streets of Gaza asking the new Hamas government to allow gays to live in peace. Truthfully, the protesters may get killed for this. But they could do this freely in Israel. Next, they should march through the streets of Gaza and inform the Palestinians that Israel is not their oppressor. In the big picture, Israel is surrounded by nations that wish and work for its annihilation. It is Israel that constantly feels threatened. If I could meet these misguided protesters, I would tell them that the Jews lived in their homeland and capital for centuries before Islam arrived on the world stage and the Palestinian Arabs gradually, over the centuries, moved into Israel’s land. As I noted in Part Nine, Other nations squabbled over borders as the nations were being established. For example, Mexico and the US fought a war in the middle of the nineteenth century. The US paid compensation to the Mexican government. But do Mexicans strap on bombs and blow themselves up in a US shopping mall or a crowded subway? China raped Tibet. Does any Tibetan strap on a bomb and kill innocent Chinese? The list of border disputes and conflicts is endless. Why do only Muslims kill innocents, believing that they as "martyrs" will go to Islamic heaven? If Islam as a religion is not to be blamed entirely, can it be excused entirely? JA (2005) 3. This article says that the Qur’an itself guarantees Islamic heaven for martyrs in military holy wars (jihad or qital), especially Sura 61:10-12. Where does this article go wrong? Do you see how these verses in the Qur’an may inspire human bombs? SaB (2005): First, is it possible that these words were poorly translated? We in the Arabic world are constantly annoyed when we see poor translations of the Qur’an, knowing that the worst of them are grabbed by MEMRI to "sell" to the US public as evidence of evil intent. Second, the Qur’an promises heaven for those who are martyrs and who have died in defense of their people. It promises eternal hell for those who commit suicide. There is nothing unclear about this in the Qur’an, at least in its original Arabic. It is up to Westerners to understand that, just as the Bible was mistranslated (thus the debate at the Council of Nicea centuries after the death of Jesus), the Qur’an is constantly mistranslated these days. Third, It is common knowledge among Muslims that those who die in the way of God are promised paradise. But in Islam we don't talk about "guarantees." No Muslim says about himself or any one else that they will definitely go to paradise. This is so because one can

never be sure that he has fulfilled all the conditions of a righteous deed so that God will accept it. We can only say in a general sense that a person who fights sincerely and rightly in the way of God will surely go to paradise. Fourth, Can these verses inspire human bombs? Yes they can if a person sees what he or she is doing as a good example of fighting for the sake of truth. Many of your soldiers are killing themselves and many innocent people for what they are told by their politicians is a defense of freedom or the national interest of their country. (Has anyone in the West considered the morality of "collateral damage" during the "Shock and Awe" campaign in Iraq?) JA (2006): My four points correspond to yours. First, you retreat to the "bad translation" position concerning the invaluable organization MEMRI. If you observe any specific mistranslations, then notify this superb organization. I am sure it will enquire further into your suggestions. That said, this plea of a "bad translation" is often the default position of anyone who is uncomfortable with an idea. Translating can sometimes be difficult, but in most instances it is straightforward. For example, it is not the case that the words "we enthusiastically work for Israel’s annihilation" in one language can be accurately translated as "we love Israel" in another language. Also, your reference to Nicea eludes me. The Bible was intact long before then. The New Testament was written in Greek, and many theologians at Nicea could read and speak it. So how is there a mistranslation? In your second point, you once again retreat to the "bad translation" defense. I have no fewer than eighteen translations of the Quran at home, most of which are translated by Muslims. Throughout our dialogue, I have mostly used Hilali and Khan’s translation, supported by the Saudi Royal family. I notice that you use it in your online articles. Plus, my linked article describes your position in your third point perfectly. The article says, as you do, that martyrs get a "fast track" to heaven. In your third point you merely shift the vocabulary from "guarantee" (my word) to "promise." Next, you say that the Quran promises hell for anyone who commits suicide. That’s fair enough. But your third and fourth points, examined next, clarify things more fully. Third, you say that Muslims who die in the way of God are "promised paradise." What does "the way of God" mean? In the Quran the "Cause / Way of Allah" usually refers to jihad or qital. Your last sentence in your third point supports this interpretation: "We can only say in a general sense that a person who fights sincerely and rightly in the way of God will surely go to paradise" (emphasis added). Then you say that "one can never be sure that [a Muslim] has fulfilled all the conditions of a righteous deed so that God will accept it." So we have two groups of Muslims in your explanation: (1) those who do righteous deeds. They can never be sure that their deeds are good enough. (2) Those who fight sincerely. They will "surely go to paradise." In reply, however, all of this seems strange and backwards. It would be better, would it not, if jihadists or qitalists would not be promised paradise (but be promised hell), whereas the doers of good deeds (without violence) would be promised paradise. Fourth, our soldiers are in a fight for freedom, liberating Afghanistan and Iraq from a religious tyranny and a secular tyranny. They do not fight to be promised paradise. We Christians believe that Christ’s "martyrdom" secures our entrance into heaven. We do not have to fight and die or get involved in a (twisted) quest for martyrdom and death.

As for the collateral damage in "shock and awe," Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld explains his views before liberating Iraq, and he admits that this was a difficult decision. But Saddam was killing a lot more people (usually Shi’ites) than the Iraq War has by now—a lot more. We have developed technology to avoid civilian casualties. It seems that Sunni factions, some of whom come from Saudi Arabia, are deliberately targeting civilians in Shi’ite sections of Iraq, particularly their mosques. JA (2005) 4. In endnote 2, below, [sic, World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and Muslim World League (MWL)] you list Muslim organizations. What is the essence of the goals of these organizations? Do you believe it is to further Islam around the world generally and around North America specifically? SaB (2005) It is unlawful for us to "further Islam" by unlawful means. Whenever we hear the West insist that we want to force Islam on others, whether in the US or not, we can’t understand why the West does not understand the even most basic outline of Islam! The acceptable way for one to come to Islam is on his own, by seeing what we are like in truth and without pressure. The goal of organizations "furthering" Islam is, quite simply, to correct the constant and increasing misunderstandings the West perpetuates (often intentionally), to serve the Muslim communities, to speak the truth, and to show others Islam. If one becomes interested in Islam, he will himself come to these Islamic organizations to learn more out of his own curiosity and free will. This is the same process that Christian organizations, including millions of missionaries sent out by churches, have used for centuries as they have attempted to propagate Christianity all over the world. JA (2006): There is nothing wrong with a religion preaching its message peacefully. No one said anything about "unlawful means." The point to my question no. 4 is to get a clear declaration from you that Muslims are missionaries. In any case, this peaceful proclamation is why Saudi Arabia should open the doors to Christians and Jews, so they can return to their historic homes in the Arabian Peninsula. Christians simply want to preach their message, which you so eloquently describe as the method of Islam. However, the full story must be told. In Part Three (see my four numbered points below the long list of Quranic legal decrees), I cite Suras 9:5 and 9:29. They command battle against polytheists and Jews and Christians. You explain in Part Eight, (see my question 4B) that Christians are polytheists, so apparently radicals can apply both Quranic verses to them. These verses and many others make Christians and Jews nervous about the intent of missionary Muslims. What are the true intentions of WAMY and MWL? Are they peaceful? Or are they merely peaceful on the outside, but on the inside they can hardly wait to establish shariah? Too often the sword speaks for dawa (the call to Islam). In the New Testament Jesus does not tell his followers to commit violence and force people to convert at the edge of a sword. He did not kill apostates. JA (2005) 5. Why are not Christian organizations allowed to operate so freely and publicly in Saudi Arabia? Does it not seem fair that they would be permitted to do so?

SaB (2005): Can I ask why there are no synagogues at the Vatican? Why is there no mosque next door to the Papal palace? Churches are allowed in all Muslim countries except ours; they are excluded from Saudi Arabia because this country is the home of Islam. Saudi Arabia is more than a nation, a state, or a Kingdom – it is the centre of the entire Islamic world. Just like the Vatican it is sacrosanct in this way. We have never demanded that mosques be built in the Vatican, or in atheist China or Cuba for example; it is equally wrong for Westerners to focus on the building of a church or synagogue in the Holy Places. However, people here are free to worship unhindered in their own homes – and they do so. JA (2006): Here are some repeated points from elsewhere in our dialogue, especially Part Five, but other ones are new. (1) There is in fact a synagogue and a mosque in Rome. The mosque, not surprisingly, was funded by Saudi Arabia. The Vatican approved of its construction. (2) Saudi Arabia is 1,960,582 square kilometers (not counting the rest of the Peninsula and the Gulf States), but the Vatican is 0.44 sq. km. Surely there is room for even a few churches outside of Mecca and Medina and perhaps outside of the Hijaz. (3) At the very least visiting Christians and Jews should be able to wear their symbols and religious adornments and carry their holy books without being harassed or arrested in Saudi Arabia. (4) In Saudi Arabia people are free to worship in their homes? Truthfully, however, Christians and Saudi Shiite Muslims secretly hold their ceremonies in their homes, but they are not free. Under a wide range of circumstances, sometimes they get arrested, imprisoned and tortured. (5) Saudi authorities should stop blocking websites like answering-islam.org. Is the worldwide web in Saudi Arabia sacrosanct from religious liberty? (6) You say that Islam never demands that mosques be built in China or Cuba. "Demand" does not fit our dialogue. And there are mosques in China. A Muslim leader in the Muslim World League asked permission from the Cuban authorities to build a mosque in support of the small Muslim community there. Did he "demand" it? (7) When religious authorities of one religion suppress freedom of other religions, they testify against their own religion. It is an admission of weakness. Your version of Islam, so pure and strict and therefore safeguarded by Allah, should be able to stand on its own two feet without scaring away other religions by force, persecution, imprisonment, and torture. Open Letter to Congress (continued): Conclusion In conclusion, I would like to remind the American people and their representatives that for more than 70 years there has been a peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship between our two countries. In the words of former President Ronald Reagan, "the friendship and cooperation between our governments and peoples are precious jewels whose value we should never underestimate." I believe that the Muslim world in general and people of Saudi Arabia people in particular genuinely desire to overcome the current tension and retain this precious jewel. The Muslims, and in particular their religious leadership, want only to develop and reform their societies; they do not seek a perpetual war of civilizations or World War IV. Rather, we seek peaceful coexistence and an exchange that is mutually beneficial to both Muslim and non-Muslims alike.

Such a future can only be built on understanding and trust. In that spirit, we invite the members of the 109th Congress of the United States of America to an honest and open dialogue. Instead of attempting to form an opinion based on the testimony of others, invite the Islamic scholars of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to stand before your distinguished body and address your every concern directly. Instead of rushing into a hasty judgment on this nation and these people who have been your friend and ally for over 70 years, I suggest to the members of Congress themselves visit the Kingdom and observe first hand our religious systems and our way of life. True peace can only be based upon understanding. JA (2005): You ask that Saudi scholars stand before Congress and address its every concern. If that does not happen, then I hope our dialogue addresses the concerns that many Americans, besides myself, have in regards to Wahhabism and Islamic fundamentalism. SaB (2005): I hope too. JA (2005): In your email to me, you say that you have discussed your letter with Saudi religious scholars and theologians. I hope that they join with you in answering these questions and concerns. SaB (2005): In conclusion, we have done our best to answer your questions in the best way we could, I again reiterate that we seek peaceful coexistence (please see How We Can Coexist) and an exchange that is mutually beneficial to both Muslim and non-Muslims alike. We do not believe it imperative that our civilizations should be enemies to each other; rather, we hope and aspire to build a friendship and future based on understanding and the mutual recognition of difference. It is understandable that many of our practices and beliefs seem strange to those in the West, just as the practices of many Westerners seem strange to us. While many Saudi people have benefited from an exposure to Western civilization and formed more nuanced views as a result, likewise we believe that the West might benefit from investigating in an open-minded, unbiased manner our civilization and our religious systems. I will conclude with Prince Charles, Heir to the British Monarchy, in public speech at Oxford University stated: "If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilization owe to the Islamic world. It is a failure, which stems, I think, from the straight-jacket of history, which we have inherited. The medieval Islamic World, from Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished. But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society, and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great reliance to our own history."(Please see History of Science and Civilization as taught by many education systems). In this spirit, we invite you to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and observe our way of life first hand.

JA (2006): It has been an honor to dialogue with you. In the big picture, you wrote your Open Letter to Congress to explain that Wahhabis are just Muslims who follow a strict interpretation of the Quran. This may be true, but over a billion followers of Islam lay claim to the title of "Muslim." So we need to make distinctions. Whatever label is selected, I hope that peace and religious liberty can become a reality behind the word, in Saudi Arabia. With all due respect to the future king of England, I must say that he is no theologian or historian. The West is not in a "strait-jacket of history." See this timeline of Islamic imperialism, for example. Thank you for your invitation to Saudi Arabia. Cross-cultural communication can only help. The worldwide web promotes dialogue, if not in person, then in spirit. This concludes our dialogue. Soliman H. alBut'he October 2005 Email: soliman.albuthe@gmail.com James M. Arlandson Email: jamesmarlandson@hotmail.com

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