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Location: Long Island, New York, United States

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Do I Need to Speak Arabic to Judge the Koran?

Vavoom over at Tedrow Drive is now trying to argue that one must understand Arabic in order to properly evaluate the Koran. He did so in the 2:04 am comment in this article. I had stated that there were clearly evil and intolerant passages in the Koran and he came back with this.

I think there are passages in every text in every religion that are problematic. Part of this has to do with interpretation. No, I don't mean interpretation of English versions of the Koran. Rather, I mean that the tranlation from arabic to english is often sketchy. Also, context does matter. Often, statements are taken out of context, translated poorly and later misinterpreted. Can you read arabic? I strongly suggest you learn how, if you can't. It might help you make a better assessment. I focus on peaceful aspects of all religions. As such, I respect them all.
I don’t buy this argument for several reasons.
1) He is practicing the Tu Quoque fallacy again. Other religions wrongs do not forgive Islams wrongs.

2) Mistranslation runs both ways and not just the way he wishes. It might be that good things are being mistranslated into bad. However, it is equally likely that bad things were mistranslated into good.

3) He puts the quite unreasonable hurdle of requiring non-Muslims to learn Arabic before they can evaluate the morality of the Koran. Does he hold Muslims up to the same standard. By this standard non-arabic speakers can’t rightly call themselves Muslims, they don’t know what the Koran actually says. Perhaps the parts that are taken as "good" by non-arabic speaking muslims were mistranslated and are actually "bad" passages.

4) Just because there might have been a mistake in translation doesn’t mean there was in any specific case. The same holds true for context. This reminds me of the argument made by certain philosophers that we cannot trust our senses in general due to optical illusions, therefore reality is an illusion. Come on, you have to prove that in a particular instance a mistake was made. Using this criteria, I’ve seen Vavoom make mistakes in the past so I guess I’ll just assume everything he does is an error.

5) Despite his claims we do have the context. The translators don’t just translate specific quotes but the entire Koran. In fact this argument can often run the other way. Seemingly tolerant passages can be seen to be intolerant when taken in context. This is why there is a need to be specific.

6) We have multiple translations into English from the point of view of different religious interpretations by, of course, Arabic speakers. This presents no hurdle whatsoever, since we need only look at the multiple versions for discrepancies. If they all agree in principle, if not in exact wording, then we know that differences in religious interpretation was not a problem.

7) What the heck does concentrating on the peaceful aspects have to do with proper translation. If the Koran says to kill non-believers, and it does, then sticking your head in the sand isn’t going to change that fact.
I am using the Yufali English translation of the Quran as my source. This is the one recommended by many Muslims. I am also using the Skeptics Annotated Quran which is the Pickthal translation. Futhermore the Shakir translation is available online.

Take a look at these different translations and see if you don’t agree that the teachings in the Koran are intolerant if not just plain old evil. I see no important difference between these translations.

All three translations are available here. So you can go read them in context if you wish, but it doesn't help.

Of course I could have put more topics, and more quotes per topic, but I didn’t want to end up making you read the entire Koran. Peruse them and see. I have nothing more to say on the topic, as it is quite clear the Koran is intolerant.

Mandatory Religious Warfare
YUSUFALI: Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.
PICKTHAL: Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not.
SHAKIR: Fighting is enjoined on you, and it is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.

YUSUFALI: Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.
PICKTHAL: Lo! Allah loveth them who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure.
SHAKIR: Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall.

YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

YUSUFALI: Go ye forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of Allah. That is best for you, if ye (but) knew.
PICKTHAL: Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew.
SHAKIR: Go forth light and heavy, and strive hard in Allah's way with your property and your persons; this is better for you, if you know.

YUSUFALI: If there had been immediate gain (in sight), and the journey easy, they would (all) without doubt have followed thee, but the distance was long, (and weighed) on them. They would indeed swear by Allah, "If we only could, we should certainly have come out with you": They would destroy their own souls; for Allah doth know that they are certainly lying.
PICKTHAL: Had it been a near adventure and an easy journey they had followed thee, but the distance seemed too far for them. Yet will they swear by Allah (saying): If we had been able we would surely have set out with you. They destroy their souls, and Allah knoweth that they verily are liars.
SHAKIR: Had it been a near advantage and a short journey, they would certainly have followed you, but the tedious journey was too long for them; and they swear by Allah: If we had been able, we would certainly have gone forth with you; they cause their own souls to perish, and Allah knows that they are most surely

YUSUFALI: Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask thee for no exemption from fighting with their goods and persons. And Allah knoweth well those who do their duty.
PICKTHAL: Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask no leave of thee lest they should strive with their wealth and their lives. Allah is Aware of those who keep their duty (unto Him).
SHAKIR: They do not ask leave of you who believe in Allah and the latter day (to stay away) from striving hard with their property and their persons, and Allah knows those who guard (against evil).

Don’t befriend Jews,Christians, or any non-Muslim:
YUSUFALI: Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.
PICKTHAL: Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying.
SHAKIR: Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

Reasons to hate Jews:
YUSUFALI: But because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard; they change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the message that was sent them, nor wilt thou cease to find them- barring a few - ever bent on (new) deceits: but forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds): for Allah loveth those who are kind.
PICKTHAL: And because of their breaking their covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts. They change words from their context and forget a part of that whereof they were admonished. Thou wilt not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly.
SHAKIR: But on account of their breaking their covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard; they altered the words from their places and they neglected a portion of what they were reminded of; and you shall always discover treachery in them excepting a few of them; so pardon them and turn away; surely Allah loves those who do good (to others).

YUSUFALI: Say: "O people of the Book! Do ye disapprove of us for no other reason than that we believe in Allah, and the revelation that hath come to us and that which came before (us), and (perhaps) that most of you are rebellious and disobedient?"
PICKTHAL: Say: O People of the Scripture! Do ye blame us for aught else than that we believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed aforetime, and because most of you are evil-livers?
SHAKIR: Say: O followers of the Book! do you find fault with us (for aught) except that we believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed before, and that most of you are transgressors?

YUSUFALI: Say: "Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!"
PICKTHAL: Shall I tell thee of a worse (case) than theirs for retribution with Allah? (Worse is the case of him) whom Allah hath cursed, him on whom His wrath hath fallen and of whose sort Allah hath turned some to apes and swine, and who serveth idols. Such are in worse plight and further astray from the plain road.
SHAKIR: Say: Shall I inform you of (him who is) worse than this in retribution from Allah? (Worse is he) whom Allah has cursed and brought His wrath upon, and of whom He made apes and swine, and he who served the Shaitan; these are worse in place and more erring from the straight path.

YUSUFALI: The Jews say: "Allah's hand is tied up." Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He giveth and spendeth (of His bounty) as He pleaseth. But the revelation that cometh to thee from Allah increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war, Allah doth extinguish it; but they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And Allah loveth not those who do mischief.
PICKTHAL: The Jews say: Allah's hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will. That which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them, and We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguisheth it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loveth not corrupters.
SHAKIR: And the Jews say: The hand of Allah is tied up! Their hands shall be shackled and they shall be cursed for what they say. Nay, both His hands are spread out, He expends as He pleases; and what has been revealed to you from your Lord will certainly make many of them increase in inordinacy and unbelief; and We have put enmity and hatred among them till the day of resurrection; whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out, and they strive to make mischief in the land; and Allah does not love the mischief-makers.

YUSUFALI: Thou wilt indeed find them, of all people, most greedy of life,-even more than the idolaters: Each one of them wishes He could be given a life of a thousand years: But the grant of such life will not save him from (due) punishment. For Allah sees well all that they do.
PICKTHAL: And thou wilt find them greediest of mankind for life and (greedier) than the idolaters. (Each) one of them would like to be allowed to live a thousand years. And to live (a thousand years) would be no means remove him from the doom. Allah is Seer of what they do.
SHAKIR: And you will most certainly find them the greediest of men for life (greedier) than even those who are polytheists; every one of them loves that he should be granted a life of a thousand years, and his being granted a long life will in no way remove him further off from the chastisement, and Allah sees what they do.

YUSUFALI: O Messenger! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: (whether it be) among those who say "We believe" with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews,- men who will listen to any lie,- will listen even to others who have never so much as come to thee. They change the words from their (right) times and places: they say, "If ye are given this, take it, but if not, beware!" If any one's trial is intended by Allah, thou hast no authority in the least for him against Allah. For such - it is not Allah's will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment.
PICKTHAL: O Messenger! Let not them grieve thee who vie one with another in the race to disbelief, of such as say with their mouths: "We believe," but their hearts believe not, and of the Jews: listeners for the sake of falsehood, listeners on behalf of other folk who come not unto thee, changing words from their context and saying: If this be given unto you, receive it, but if this be not given unto you, then beware! He whom Allah doometh unto sin, thou (by thine efforts) wilt avail him naught against Allah. Those are they for whom the Will of Allah is that He cleanse not their hearts. Theirs in the world will be ignominy, and in the Hereafter an awful doom;
SHAKIR: O Messenger! let not those grieve you who strive together in hastening to unbelief from among those who say with their mouths: We believe, and their hearts do not believe, and from among those who are Jews; they are listeners for the sake of a lie, listeners for another people who have not come to you; they alter the words from their places, saying: If you are given this, take it, and if you are not given this, be cautious; and as for him whose temptation Allah desires, you cannot control anything for him with Allah. Those are they for whom Allah does not desire that He should purify their hearts; they shall have disgrace in this world, and they shall have a grievous chastisement in the hereafter.

YUSUFALI: The similitude of those who were charged with the (obligations of the) Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is that of a donkey which carries huge tomes (but understands them not). Evil is the similitude of people who falsify the Signs of Allah: and Allah guides not people who do wrong.
PICKTHAL: The likeness of those who are entrusted with the Law of Moses, yet apply it not, is as the likeness of the ass carrying books. Wretched is the likeness of folk who deny the revelations of Allah. And Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.
SHAKIR: The likeness of those who were charged with the Taurat, then they did not observe it, is as the likeness of the ass bearing books, evil is the likeness of the people who reject the communications of Allah; and Allah does not guide the unjust people.

YUSUFALI: Say: "O ye that stand on Judaism! If ye think that ye are friends to Allah, to the exclusion of (other) men, then express your desire for Death, if ye are truthful!"
PICKTHAL: Say (O Muhammad): O ye who are Jews! If ye claim that ye are favoured of Allah apart from (all) mankind, then long for death if ye are truthful.
SHAKIR: Say: O you who are Jews, if you think that you are the favorites of Allah to the exclusion of other people, then invoke death If you are truthful.
YUSUFALI: But never will they express their desire (for Death), because of the (deeds) their hands have sent on before them! and Allah knows well those that do wrong!
PICKTHAL: But they will never long for it because of all that their own hands have sent before, and Allah is Aware of evil-doers.
SHAKIR: And they will never invoke it because of what their hands have sent before; and Allah is Cognizant of the unjust.

YUSUFALI: The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
PICKTHAL: And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
SHAKIR: And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

YUSUFALI: Go ye forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of Allah. That is best for you, if ye (but) knew.
PICKTHAL: Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew.
SHAKIR: Go forth light and heavy, and strive hard in Allah's way with your property and your persons; this is better for you, if you know.

YUSUFALI: If there had been immediate gain (in sight), and the journey easy, they would (all) without doubt have followed thee, but the distance was long, (and weighed) on them. They would indeed swear by Allah, "If we only could, we should certainly have come out with you": They would destroy their own souls; for Allah doth know that they are certainly lying.
PICKTHAL: Had it been a near adventure and an easy journey they had followed thee, but the distance seemed too far for them. Yet will they swear by Allah (saying): If we had been able we would surely have set out with you. They destroy their souls, and Allah knoweth that they verily are liars.
SHAKIR: Had it been a near advantage and a short journey, they would certainly have followed you, but the tedious journey was too long for them; and they swear by Allah: If we had been able, we would certainly have gone forth with you; they cause their own souls to perish, and Allah knows that they are most surely

YUSUFALI: Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask thee for no exemption from fighting with their goods and persons. And Allah knoweth well those who do their duty.
PICKTHAL: Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask no leave of thee lest they should strive with their wealth and their lives. Allah is Aware of those who keep their duty (unto Him).
SHAKIR: They do not ask leave of you who believe in Allah and the latter day (to stay away) from striving hard with their property and their persons, and Allah knows those who guard (against evil).

Attempted Assasination of the Word "Rational"

Over at Catallarchy I had commented on an article titled “Gerin Oil Addiction”, which was itself a comment on an article by Richard Dawkins titled "Opiate of the Masses" . I only mention this to point out that I came across someone in the comments there who seemed to have a serous issue with rationality. He seems to think of rationality as a source of evil. His name is Brian W. Doss and he has since posted an article titled “As if reading my mind” in which he advances the notion that the word rational has been stripped of meaning and should be discarded in favor of other more descriptive terminology.

In the Gerin Oil comments I was getting the distinct feeling that Mr. Doss was confused as to the meaning of the word rational when used by us rationalists. I didn’t however want to get into long discussion at that point. Now that he has declared war not only on rationality but also on the use of the word rational I am going to have to take issue.

The article “As if reading my mind” is in itself thin on argumentation and instead it extensively quotes another article at Crooked Timber, comments in that article, and quotes from an economist, Ludwig von Mises, on rationality. All the quotes he uses were on the term “rational” as used in economics.

Yet Doss uses these quotes to try to bolster the idea of getting rid of the use of the word “rational” in everyday language. I think I am justified in this interpretation because he links to the “Gerin Oil” comments, in his post thusly:

As if reading my mind
…or reading the blog comments, John Quiggin reposts a quick meditation on how ‘rational’ has been stripped of meaning and should be discarded in favor of more directly descriptive terminology:
Those comments were not about economics and thus the word “rational” was being used with a common language definition and not an economic one.

The common language meaning of rational, as used by rationalist, and the economic meaning as used by economists are different. Thus, none of the quotes cited by Doss count against the rationalists in the “Gerin Oil” blog comments. Trying to use them this way is committing the fallacy of equivocation.

I don’t know if this is intentional or not but by the end of the article Doss admits something I suspected all along.
“That word you keep using. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”
NB: This applies to me equally.

He admits he doesn’t know what rational means. So perhaps we can forgive him his equivocation.

I think that was enough to put a bullet in the argument put forth by Doss but I would like to clarify why I disagree not merely with his argument but also his position. I don’t agree that the word “rational” is confused to the point of meaninglessness in common usage. I also would like to state why I agree with the article he quotes.

First I’ll tackle common usage.

Common Usage
When I use the word rational in the phrase “rational behavior” in everyday conversation I mean the following:
Rationality consists of recognizing the possibility of error in our beliefs and actions, then using every method available and commensurate with the situation to reduce such error.
As you can see this definition is in the realm of human behavior. It is used in categorizing human behavior. It may not draw a crisp line between categories but it is useful nonetheless. In this way it is like the word “bald” with regards to hair loss. There are degrees of baldness and there are degrees of rationality.

As a simple example one can clearly categorize these behaviors with regard to rationality in relationship to the situation.
Situation: A Catholic woman desires to meet a man for a serious relationship that leads to marriage and children. She is beautiful and intelligent and wishes to raise her children as Catholics.
Categorize these behaviors as to rationality if they are motivated by her desire to meet such a man.
1) She goes to a Catholic church
2) She goes to the library
3) She goes to a bar
4) She moves to Alaska. There is little competition for men there.
5) She goes to a Synagogue.
6) She goes to a Mosque.
7) She works at a strip club where she can meet lots of men and they can evaluate her assets.
Now I think we can all agree:
That 1) is the most rational behavior given her situation.
That 2) and 3) are fairly rational and that she can take addition steps to ensure success. That for various reasons 4) may or may not be rational.
That 5) 6) and 7) are irrational.

So given her situation and goals we can say that certain behaviors are more prone to error and are less likely to lead to satisfaction of those goals. Assuming that people wish to attain their goals, the definition of a goal, then we can see that rational behavior is the best means to that attainment. One can use less rational means to attain a goal but such behavior is less likely to result in success.

Note that this doesn’t mean that one cannot attain ones goals through irrational behavior. If our imaginary woman where working at a strip club and someone told her she was behaving irrationally, then that would not be the same as saying she could not find a husband that way. It’s possible that she would, it’s just not likely.

Using the fact that rational behavior leads to success in the attainment of goals we can derive normative statements. Thus we can say that, rational behavior in the attainment of ethically good goals is good, and that irrational behavior used to further such goals is bad. Thus in my example, given her goals, going to church is good behavior while being a stripper is bad behavior.

The objective facts also effect rationality. If there were no churches, bars, libraries, or state of Alaska, and such then being a stripper would certainly appear more rational. You'd have to eliminate lots of options however to make being a stripper look like a good option for meeting desirable men.

Since rationality has to do with human behavior which is in turn effected by knowledge it is only natural to expect rationality to depend upon knowledge. Thus in my example, if she were not aware of churches, libraries, and the state of Alaska, then going to bars would move up on the list of rational behavior and might be considered rational to her goals, given her knowledge.

The fact that rationality is relative to a persons situation and knowledge means it is in a sense subjective. However due to the fact that subjective situation and knowledge can change due to objective facts it is also in a sense objective. What was once a rational decision in ignorance of a fact may become irrational in light of that fact, or vice versa.

So I disagree with Doss. The word “rational” is useful (although a complex concept). The particular meaning of the word I have discussed here is clear. Not only that but that particular meaning describes a concept that is not only useful in it’s own right but also integrates well with other concepts such “good”, “bad”, “error”, “efficient”, “goal”, “behavior”, etc.

Usage by Economists

The prior discussion was all within the framework of common language usage. Let me move on its usage in economics and why I agree with the Crooked Timber article.

Often, scientists use common language words but give them a different meaning within their discipline? Thus when physicists name the charm particle that doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with transmitting aspects of personality. In this case it is merely being used as an identifier with no other meaning, and was probably done to make an otherwise boring topic more humorous. Scientists aren’t the only ones with specialized vocabularies either. Many other groups have developed special language suited for their discipline for various reasons. Examples run from fry cooks to gang members.

That economists would use this word in a special discipline specific way doesn’t bother me. Nor does it bother me if they give it a completely different meaning as per above. Both are compatible with the needs of specialized vocabularies. What does bother me however is the following:
1) Economics studies human behavior, not some esoteric thing like particles. This presents two problems
a) The word “rational” defined in terms of human behavior in both common language and economics. This causes confusion that is not likely in a discipline such as particle physics. When economists are talking about human behavior we cannot be sure which meaning of rational to take. When physicists are talking about human behavior we know what meaning of the word charm to take.
b) It is likely that the common language definition of the word would be useful to use in economics, since it does bear upon human behavior. People do act rationally and irrationally using the definition I gave above. Thus by redefining the word economics loses a powerful concept.
2) Economists from different sub-disciplines give the word different meanings. The Austrian concept of rationality is quite different from the Neo-Classical one.
3) Even within a particular economic discipline the word is not used consistently.
The reason these issues bother me is that they can and do lead to error. Since economists are free to coin new terms there is no reason I can see for them to continue in this behavior. To do so would be irrational.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Trying to Have a Discussion About Islam

I'm trying to have a discussion about Islam with Vavoom over at Tedrow Drive but he is being evasive. One of the commenters there responded to me as if my questions were equally applicable to Christianity and Judaism. He's of the mistaken viewpoint that Islam had some claim to some form of historical moral superiority. I don't think that is the case. I tried to post my reply to him but it was too big for the comments section. That's why I have the word "bloviating" in my tag line.

I didn't proofread this so I may go back and fix it for spelling or grammar. I won't remove or add sentences, and will only change a sentence to give my true meaning if I have a typo or something.

Heres my reply:

Mindful: “Your criticisms of Islam apply equally well to both Christianity and Judaism. Doesn't the Bible approve slavery and say that we should kill those who work on the Sabbath? For centuries, non-christians were persecuted for voicing their beliefs.

I don’t go to Muslims to criticize Christianity and Judaism. The Muslims already have their own misguided reasons for doing so. Some of which you have bought into. I go directly to Christians and they can defend themselves against many of these charges. For instance, many do not take the bible literally. I have been to churches and they do not use the whole bible. In fact they go out of their way to teach that certain parts are overruled by the appearance of Christ. In particular the parts about slavery and killing those who work on the sabbath.

I just had a conversation with a Catholic the other day and he is very much aware of the stupid teachings in the bible, he rejects them, and he is honest in saying that most Christians are not even aware of them. He does not believe the bible was written by god but by fallible men and that it is full of mistakes and frankly evil stuff.

There are fundamentalist Christians who believe in the literal truth of the bible and those are the most dangerous kinds of Christians. They tend to be the ones involved in bombings of abortion clinics and the like. This is not a general problem even with them however since Jesus did not run around chopping peoples heads and hands off, raiding caravans, making war on peaceful neighbors, massacring whole populations, like Mohammed did. For the most part I have to agree with the Christians that the bad behavior in the past is against the teachings of Christ.

Christians and Jews have other defenses that Muslims don’t. In Christianity and Judaism it is God doing allot of the killing and punishing. In fact when he punishes he even punishes Jews. When he commands the slaughter of innocents or does it himself it becomes a historical issue. Much of the time God is killing Jews. God may have commanded the Jews to slaughter the Midianites, Canaanites, or Baconites J but what does that matter to anyone today? That Jews slaughtered some tribe called the Midianites at some time in the past may be reprehensible but puts no one in danger today. I can find no general commandment in the Bible for Jews and Christians to kill any group today. That is not the case with the Koran.

Today’s Jews are not responsible for some unjustified slaughter that occurred two thousand years ago. Not even if they teach that the slaughter is valid Jewish doctrine and they personally believe in it. The reason why they are not responsible is because they didn’t do it. Now if they teach the slaughter was evil, an opinion held by most Christians and Deists, then they are blameless in all ways. However, if they sanction it then they are not blameless and can be held in contempt for at least this one evil belief. Even in this case however such a Jew is not a danger to anyone in the present. Furthermore, if you read the text on the killing of say the Midianites there is no general requirement by God for Jews find and kill them today. Even if there were Midianites they would have a reason to be unhappy with history but would not need to be in general fear of Jews.

I want to also apologize to any Jews. I really shouldn’t be using the bible in this case. It would be the Torah, and other religious texts.

Now if the Jews were strict literalists, if the Torah taught them to slaughter Midianites up to the present day, if Jews were actually slaughtering Midianites, then the Midianites would be justified in protecting themselves. Not only would the Jews actually participating be guilty but also those who were advocating the crimes. The murderers themselves guilty of murder and the inciters guilty of incitement to murder.

Furthermore, if the murderers were a member of some organization that had sanctioned such behavior then other members can be held responsible, should they become aware of this and not disassociate themselves. If you join an organization that has literature that calls for the murder of innocents, go to meetings where the leaders of the organization incite for such actions, you donate money to support the organization, and then some other members act on these beliefs then you share part of the guilt. This is a lesser crime than murder, or direct incitement to murder, but it is still a crime and you should be punished, force to pay restitution, and possibly locked up if you continue in such behavior in order to protect your victims.

I also think there are additional crimes that can be associated with these evil beliefs.

I believe it is a crime to knowingly and with reasonable regard to the truth, deceive another into believing something that is untrue about someone else that would lead that person to behavior that is harmful to either themselves or the other person. I spend a lot of time thinking about such ethical issues.

There are laws on the books, libel laws, related to this crime so it is at least partially recognized. I think these laws are inadequate as to their scope. For instance, I understand that libel only pertains to specific lies about an single individual. You cannot sue for libel if the lie is about a group that you happen to be a member of.

I am of the opinion that this, libel upon groups, is a crime regardless of whether there is a law against it, similar to my belief that slavery is a crime regardless of whether it is lawful. There are some countries with laws of this kind on the books. In Germany for instance there are laws against promulgating Nazi ideology. Don’t be confused into thinking this would apply too broadly. My crime includes the adjective phrase “knowingly and with reasonable regard to the truth”, and people do make mistakes. But I think a reasonable man test should apply, and that gross over generalizations fail this test.

There is no reasonable person who can believe that “all Jews are greedy”. If you teach this to another person, especially a minor, then you are committing a group libel and I think anyone in the group has standing to sue you to stop. Furthermore, if the person you teach this to commits a crime against a member of the aggrieved group that you should be held partially responsible.

There are many teachings in Islam for which none of the excuses available to Christians and Jews apply. In addition Muslims are obeying these evil teachings today and they cite them in their sermons, both before and after members of their mosques commit their atrocities. To lesser and greater degrees many Muslims are guilty of the crimes I have discussed above, in addition to others.

I understand that, as with most religions, there are many Islamic sects, regional differences, and even differences of opinion within particular sects. I know many Catholics and their opinions vary greatly. I only know this however by speaking to them and discussing many different issues. All present day Catholics that I have met do not condone the murder of heretics. This has not always been the case and the only reason I know is because I have asked. There are to my knowledge no Catholics running amuck killing heretics. I have discussed the issue of killing heretics with educated middle class Muslims and they have no problem with it. For instance, a Pakistani I know was asked about the heresy laws of his own country (and others) “Isn’t that wrong”. His response was “You just don’t like it because you are not a believer”. Really, this is the level of moral understanding that I have seen from well-educated Muslims. Worse still I see plenty of Muslims, even clerics from esteemed religious institutions who should know Islam, calling for the murder of non-Muslims.

It is not a common practice for Catholics to kill family members that turn apostate. I know of no current teachings of the Catholic Church to do so. I understand that there are crazy people like say John List, and I do not count this against modern Christians in general. List may have found his inspiration in the bible but it was not due to anyone in the Catholic faith telling him to take it literally. If John List was a fundamentalist and his preacher told him the bible was literally true, and if a reasonable person could interpret the bible to be teaching to kill your family then I would hold the preacher accountable. I doubt that is the case. This is a behavior that is practiced in Islam. They kill family members for minor violations of Islamic law like sleeping around to protect the family honor. The same goes for apostates, which, is an even worse crime in Islam.

My issue is with the evil teachings of Islam that I have read with my own eyes.

Mindful: During that time, the muslim world treated non-muslims with respect.

This is a false statement. You have failed to skeptically investigate the claims. I think you are ignorant of the actual treatment of non-muslims during the period. Muslims are in a state of denial about their religious history that is similar to Christian denial. There are Muslim apologists just like there are Christian ones There is a difference however in how they proceed, Christians deny that these past evils were due to following Christ, Muslims just deny the history completely.

Under Islamic law conquered Christians and Jews have the status of Dhimmitude. Dhimmis are required to pay a Jiyza, or political poll tax. During collection of this tax there is a requirement that the Dhimmis are made to feel subdued. Often there was a humiliating public ceremony in which the tax was collected during which the dhimmis were given some sort of beating.

Muslims need not pay such a tax and therefore the Islamic ruler's only tax base was often the Dhimmis under their control. One way to get out of the tax is to convert to Islam, which often the rulers would not allow lest their tax base be eroded. There was an open invitation by the rulers for non-muslims to come to their countries, but one can see that this is for selfish motivations and not out of some form of beneficence. Like when certain Muslim conquerers released some of their prisoners for ransom, this was not a sign of tolerance. Often an Islamic ruler is praised for such a ransom when in many other cases he just had everyone slaughtered.

Dhimmis were required to wear special clothing so that they could be harrassed in public, were not allowed to testify against Muslims, were not allowed in many occupations, were not allowed to be the bosses of Muslims, were not allowed to build or repair their churches and synagoges, not carry weapons, couldn’t build their houses higher than Muslims, and so forth. Their position was precarious because they were often subject to purges, and the local Muslim population had no monetary incentive not to abuse them. Often a spat between a Muslim and a Dhimmi would degrade into a Muslim riot to punish all the Dhimmis for the transgression, even if it was originally the Muslim that was wrong. Also this whole time Muslims were allowed to own slaves, and Christians and Jews not. So guess who made up the slaves?

You may not be aware of this but many of the Southern US plantation owners thought that they were doing their slaves a favor. Not only that but quite a few slaves were allowed a sort of Dhimmi status and were allowed to go into the trades. Not because the slave owner was showing any kind of respect, but purely on a financial consideration. It is often possible to make more money on a slave by allowing the slave to educate himself in a trade and buy his own freedom. Slaves don’t make very good employess precisely because there is nothing in it for them. Not only that but there are costs involved in maintaining slaves in their positions. This practice of manumission via self-purchase has been common through-out history due to the financial incentives. It has nothing to do with any moral enlightenment on the part of the slave owner.

Such slaves were allowed to walk around freely, get jobs, etc. In the case of the southern US there was already a identifiable difference, skin color, between slave and slaveholder, so there was no need for distinctive clothing. In the more ancient slave holding communities this condition did not hold, so both capturing escaped slaves and identifing them were both more costly and provided different incentives in those societies that lead to different social attitudes. Once slaves bought themselves freedom in these more ancient societies they could literally change their skin color by switching their dress. The same was not true in the south and many of the slaves who bought their freedom moved north to avoid the social stigma of their skin color. The Dhimmis in Islamic culture had no so out. They were literally tax slaves who could never buy their freedom, unless perhaps they converted to Islam.

Of course, there is the issue of unbelievers such as myself who are not Christian or Jews. They were for the most part just put to death, without even an opportunity to convert, as were many Jews and Christians. There was no tolerance for beliefs outside of this small sphere. Atheists and Idolators were not tolerated in Muslim society and their only choice if they survived the murderous invasion was conversion or death.

Mindful: In the past, Islam was the religion of peace, both morally and geopolitically, and you would have been inveighing against Christians for hewing to their own misguided scripture.”

I am glad you recognize my moral superiority. :) It was people like me inveighing against Christian beliefs and Christian behavior that did lead to their reformation. Both the belief and the behavior has changed for the most part. Christianity still needs work in on some beliefs and some behavior but for the most part it is a peaceful religion. Islam has not experienced such a reformation.

It was Vavooms railing against the idea that Islam needed to get out of the 17th century that originally got my attention over at He seems like a rational guy but I think he is not seeing the big picture here. Islam really still is in the 17th century compared to Christianity and Judaism.

If you knew your history then you would realize there was never a period of time in which Islam could claim to be the religion of peace. As they say, history is always written by the winners.

Mindful: Imagine if the vast majority of Christians lived in poverty and ignorance. Do you think they would be great humanitarians? Do you think they would grow up gentle and giving? They would not.

The empircal evidence doesn’t back you up on this claim. The most violent and fanatical Muslims have been the richest, not the poorest. Osama Bin Laden was rich beyond my wildest dreams, and was educated in the finest institutions. Do you forget how and where the suicide pilots had access to flight instruction?

There have been and are vast populations of Catholic Christians living in abject poverty but they are not running around blowing up innocents. My grandfather was a poor sharecropper and my mother used to work in the fields picking not only their own crops but the crops of others. She used to get paid the same amount as the adults because she picked just as much, at age six her father demanded the same pay for her, and she was quite proud of that. He died from a rattlesnake bite he got in the woods, around the time my mother was seventeen.. She had four sisters and two brothers. All of who grew up to be gentle and giving.

I don’t know what being a “great humanitarian” has to do with it. Many of the greatest humaniarians of all times lived in abject poverty as children, Carnegie and Mother Teresa among others.

Vavoom, is worried about word count but look how much information it took to correct your three false sentences. I guess I could have said “Malarkey” but I assumed you were earnest but ignorant and not just a garden variety liar. It is my concern for the truth and that you know it that requires me to do more than that.

Mindful: The radicalism of state-sponsored Islam today is the effect of a century of poverty and misrule instigated in large part by the misguided actions of European (christian!) powers after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

I have to chuckle. Do you only get your history from Muslims? Why is it that only non-whites get to pull the historical victimhood card. Europeans were victims of the Romans conquest long before Muslims existed. There was a four hundred year history of Muslim conquest of Christian lands long before the first Crusade, and all the Crusades were started based on actual honest grivences. Muslims had invaded all the way into Spain and held it for hundreds of years before they were pushed out.

Christianity was not originally spread by the sword and it was the Muslims that precipitated the situation in Spain, in which after centuries of Dhimmitude the inhabitants threw off their chains. They were extremely intolerant of their overlords and anyone who appeared to work with them. This is not surprising, often brutal slave colonies like Haiti turn against their masters. The Haitian flag included the symbology of a white baby impaled on a spike. It is understandable and one of the reasons slavers are often afraid to free their slaves. So it was partially the Muslim’s fault the inquisition occurred. This is something I was not aware of until recently and had always blamed it on the Christians.

There are other problems with Christianity with regard to intellectual intolerance, but again the Muslims shared this trait. After all Islam is a bastardized form of Christianity. Thus Muslims burned down the library at Alexandria with the guy in charge saying something to the effect that “If any book disagrees with the Koran then it is pernicious and needs to be destroyed. If any agrees then it is superfluous and should also be destroyed”. He burned the books to heat the bath houses. Perhaps to wash off the guilt.

You are quite ignorant if you think that Islamic society was just peacefully minding it’s business up until the Ottoman empire was destroyed. Islam had taken over one million white slaves during the eighteenth and into the early nineteenth centuries. For over two hundred years they had raided not only European shipping but often landed in European lands to take slaves. Britain in particular was a target, and I mean literal slave raids in the country itself. Britain put up with this for over 200 years before it was put to a stop in 1830 by the descendent of a British white slave who had made his escape.

The Ottomans entered into WWI on the side of Germany. Do they get a free pass for that also?

I get sick of the Muslims constantly whining about our Western interference into their politics. What about their interference in ours? Take Sirhan Sirhan for instance. Why can’t I complain about the all the bribes coming from oil rich countries, you know registered lobbyists, to influence my leaders. I feel just as oppressed by some of the things my government does as they do by theirs. Why can’t I blame them. Why the hell for instance are my borders open to Muslim imperialist expansion while they prevent all immigration to their countries, why can they use government funds to build Mosques here, while not even private funds can be used to build a single Church in their country? If we are running the show then why don’t we get their oil for next to nothing? If we are running the show then why aren’t we forcing them to build churches and why aren’t the laws set up in their countries to our citizens favor and not the other way round. How did it end up that they nationalized US and British oil companies if we are in control? Why is it that since the “misrule instigated in large part by the misguided actions of European (christian) countries” that the Muslim population has advanced at a rate far exceeding those of western countries? Isn’t that a measure of welfare? Didn’t they benefit from medicine and trade with us? Does the doubling of their population reflect on us or them and the way they treat their women, as baby machines?

Note that the prior paragraph consists mainly of retorical questions and does not neccesarily represent my views in any particular instance. I was mocking the silly claims made by the other side.

Mindful: So maybe we can lay the blame of all today's chaos at Jesus's feet. But that would be ridiculous, wouldn't it? Just as ridiculous as blaming Mohammed.

Jesus didn’t call for mass slaughter, nor did he practice it. So he cannot be blamed directly or indirectly in any case. On the other hand Mohammed did both.

Mindful: The fact of the matter is, the clerics that want to kill Salman Rushdie are responsible for their own actions.

Of course, so what? That is the case regardless of whether Islam calls for the murder of apostates or not. They should know that the Koran is a false document and should behave themselves.

Do you really think that the Koran would stop them from believing something they really wanted to believe?
Do you even listen to the other side? I think it is clear that there is nothing about the Koran that would stop them. Why would you think that. Why would I expect a book instructing them to kill apostates to act as a restrain. No I would expect such a book to spur them on.

Mindful: If they need to believe something, they can just reinterpret it.
I don’t think that the option of reinterpreting the Koran is open. It says in plain language to kill.

Mindful: They are playing for power and, in their part of the world, violence is the best way for them to achieve it.

Violence is the best way only because in their part of the world intolerant Islam holds sway. Pat Robertson opened his stupid mouth (and that was not some sort of religious edict) about it would be a nice thing if Chavez got assassinated (and it probably would) and look at all the trouble it got him in. He had to apologize. Muslim clerics are constantly calling for death and it only increases their esteem with the Muslim population.

Theo van Gogh was killed for speaking up against Islamic treatment of women. The person who did it was doing it for power the same as any cleric. Any time you murder someone else you are using power to get your way. This is not just about political power. It’s not just politicians but the common guy on the street in Muslim countries that will murder for insults to Islam, like someone printing that Muhammed would have married one of the Miss Universe contestants. Hell some Palesteinians rioted and attacked Christians just a little while ago over the insult of a rumor of Druze schoolgirls posing for nude pictures.

Mindful: The only difference between them and the Christian leaders of the western world is that they grew up in a culture of hatred.

I can’t believe you mean what this sentence says, since you are trying arguing the opposite. Have you written something you didn’t intend? Do you mean to say that Islamic culture is a “culture of hatred”?

Mindful: The reason Vavoom calls you prejudiced is because you judge people by their religion. Why not judge them by their actions instead?

First off I don’t believe Vavoom actually called me prejudiced. He said that he “wrote off my comment as prejudicial” and that my “generalizations smacked of prejudice”. He couldn’t actually make a direct charge because I didn’t actually make any judgement about him based on his religion.

Second off, the phrase “you judge people by their religion” is kind of a loaded accusation. Everyone judges people by their religion. I am sure that you would be surprised if you sat down at a dinner with some orthodox Jews and they served up a big baked ham. I certainly won’t disagree with the statement in that sense. I certainly do believe that Jews have a tendency to avoid pork.

However, even in this case I wouldn’t assume that every single Jew doesn’t eat pork, and I am sure some do. Although I would make fun of them for not being good Jews. :) A good comedy skit might be some goy munching down on a ham samwich and a Jew getting indignant that he wasn’t offered a bite, and saying his generalization smacked of prejudice. “What do you think all Jews avoid pork just because the Torah says so?”

Thirdly, to my knowledge I have not judged any individual based on his religion in any of these posts, other than expecting a Muslim to be able to answer some hard questions about Islam.

Mindful: Vavoom is a good person.
Yes, it appears so to me. What is your point? I haven’t charged him with any crime worse than pointing out a little hypocrisy and a dash of intellectual error.

Mindful: I know that because he does good works. I know many people, both Muslims and Christians that do good works. The other kind, bad people, are not bad because they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or even Satanist. They are bad because they do bad things.

I think this is a naïve statement. What about people who do both good and bad things? John Gotti and Osama Bin Laden are both loved by many people for their good works. Both were quite charitable.

Mindful: As the bible says,
First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
-Matthew 7:5

I don’t appreciate being quoted to from Christianity about proper methods for intellectual inquiry. The bible has many more lessons on how to stick your head in the sand than to discover the truth. Doubting Thomas ring a bell? It is especially ironic that you do so after positing that Christianity is no more depraved than Islam.

Mindful: In other words, we need to make a true effort to understand the roots of violence and intolerance in the world.

By which you mean I ought to knuckle under to your ill informed belief on such. Like your theory that it is poverty that is the problem. Funny thing I have found is that many people who espouse this theory tend to want policies that would lead to more poverty, like reducing capitialism and increasing socialism.

I have made a true effort to understand the root causes of violence and intolerance in the world. They are multiple and varied. Funnily enough some of the worst violence and intolerance has been spawned by people trying to “do good works”. People like Marx come to mind.

Mindful: Sometimes we can do that best by examining the origins of the violence and intolerance in our own past.

That’s fine if we are not the only ones doing it, and if it doesn’t make the mistake of punishing the children for the sins of the fathers. It’s a double standard if only people of European ancestry are held to this standard. I don’t see this kind of introspection in the Arab world. The amount of self-flaggelation about history that goes on in America is frankly embarrasing, when compared to the self deception encountered in the Muslim world. The ruins of the World Trade Center hadn’t stopped smoking before Muslims were coming up with a pro-Islamic twist on the events.

You may not know this but I am not Christian, nor a member of any religion or ideology with any history of intolerance. I rejected Christianity at a very young age specifically because I found it ethically untenable. I was around seven when I decided that a God as described by could not exist due to the ethical contridictions that were inherent in the way Christianity was taught. How can you make a honest intellectual inquiry when you are being threathened to burn in hell for eternity if you don’t believe the arguments being postulated, regardless of whether they are true or false.

Mindful: Let's make sure that we are not damned by the very standards we try to enforce upon others.

“What’s this we shit paleface.” I pass my standards with flying colors.

Let's make sure we judge people by their actions, not their beliefs.”
Well there are two meaning to this sentence depending upon what we choose the word “judge” to mean.
1) If by “judge” you mean “to find guilt in” then I agree. However, remember that it is precisely for this reason that I am against Islam. After all, does not Allah burn people in hellfire forever on the mere issue of belief? Doesn’t the Koran instruct over and over to be predjudiced against unbelievers?
2) If by “judge” you mean to “gage and predict behavior” then I disagree. I think beliefs are a good metric by which to do so. If you do not think so then I suggest you try wearing a white sheet to a Nation of Islam rally to test your theory. You might be surprised at what actions people take due to their beliefs. What you cannot judge people upon, in this sense, is their lack of belief. A lack of belief is no guide to their actions. If a person literally believes every word of the Koran then I am perfectly justified in being concerned with their potential actions. Especially, if others who share this belief have acted badly and then justified their actions on the basis of this belief.

Finally, I’d like to say that my purpose is to get more input on this religion called Islam. I am trying to find a Muslim who believes for instance that I have a right to move to Pakistan, open a institution, and teach about the evils of Islam. I want to find a Muslim who will tell me that the Koran is full of falsities, absurities, and just plain evil. I want to hear a practicing Muslim tell me that yes indeed Muhammed murdered innocent people to take their belongings, raped their women, ordered the execution of poets, and even stole the wife of his adopted son after he saw her naked and couldn’t control himself. I want to know how they rationalize this in their head. Seems to me if my own beloved prophet had done this stuff then it would put me in a state of psychic distress. No wonder some Muslims kill people for even questioning the religion a little bit.

The other purpose was to correct Vavoom on some of his misunderstandings. He made statements to the effect that it was Americans responsibiliity to learn Islam,and vote for Muslims. It made it sound like it was non-Muslims responsibilty to lift up Muslims. If that is my responsibilty then with that responsibilty must go authority. My first decree is that that stop believing in the evil ideology, my second that they learn some real history, and my third that they take a skeptical eye to their religion. I however do not accept this responsibility. It is their responsibilty to act in an ethical manner, not mine to teach them how. Nor mine to feed them and clothe them. Nor mine to teach them proper history. Nor mine to learn their religion.

If I choose to learn their religion it will be to my benefit and to protect myself. I have no duty to do so for their benefit. If I choose to lift them out of their ignorance, then it will also be for my benefit, and incidentally for theirs. When I have finally understood their religion to the degree necessary, my first task isn’t going to be reasoning, people of faith are famously resistant to reason, my first task is going to be informing non-muslims of the threat, if any.

I don’t really care if Vavoom thinks that is egotistical. What the hell does he think his prophet was if not egotistical. The guy thought he spoke for god.

Does Islam Contain "The Golden Rule"

This post details my search for "The Golden Rule" in Islamic teachings.

I've been reading the Koran trying to figure out what Islam is all about, but it has been slow going. It is poorly structured and so doesn't make a good read. It is even more boring because it repetitively tells the reader he is no good if he isn't Muslim. Plus, it spends much verbiage retelling stories of the bible incorrectly, lying about other religions beliefs, and giving bad history (eg It claims Alexander the Great was a Muslim). So my motivation is low, and I often find better things to do.

I wanted to skip over all the passages in the Koran that repetitively tell us that unbelievers burn in hell, plus all the badly retold bible stories and get to some actual meat. To answer the question, “Where’s the beef”, I have used a site with a Koran annotated by a skeptic to get a quick overview of it's contents. He has pages that classifies the Suras of the Koran into categories such as good stuff, injustice, intolerance, absurdites, etc. I followed the links on those pages to the sections and read them. I have cross referenced this Koran with others and the translations are pretty much the same.

In reading these sections of the Koran it struck me that there didn't seem to be the concept of "The Golden Rule". Which is surprising since this concept has been in every religion I know of going back to Confucius. So I went on the web and did a search on "Golden Rule" Islam and the first link titled The Golden Rule was on a web site called I read the entire article, which was based on a debate between a Muslim, Yamin Zakaria, and an apostate, Ali Sina. Ali Sina was claiming that there is no Golden Rule in Islam, and was using the debate as evidence for that. In the debate Yamin Zukaria had responded to Ali Sinas claims about the Golden Rule by questioning the Golden Rule and not by saying "We Muslims believe in it too". So here we had a Muslim and a Muslim apostate both agreeing that Islam had no golden rule.

Ali Sina did point one Hadith that came close:

The closest that Islam comes to this principle is a hadith that says:

"None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." [Number 13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths."]

The same hadith is reported by Bukhari 1.2.12

"The Prophet said, "None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself."

Thee brotherhood in Islam, however does not extend to everyone. Verse 9:23 of the Quran states that the believers should not take as friends and protectors (awlia), even their own fathers and brothers, if they love Infidelity above Islam. In fact there are many verses in the Quran that tell the Muslims to be harsh to unbelievers. The unbelievers in Islam are treated in the same way that the “niggers” and Jews are treated by white-supremacists[sic].
I agree, one cannot restrict the Golden Rule to ones Muslim "brothers" and still have it retain it's universal message.

I moved on to other sites, looking for an Islamic Golden Rule, and immediately found other people claiming that Islam did have a Golden Rule. This was the version:
Do to all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.
However, none seemed to have the location in the Quran or Hadith where it existed. It would be better if it was in the Quran since it is the final authority on issues Islamic, but I would be satisified if some Islamic text, any one, contained it.

I went through several pages of Google searches and could not find a reference (skip this paragraph if you are not interested in how I found it). So I decided to do a different search. I took the claimed passage and searched on that once with the word Quran and once with the word Hadith. I got no hits with Quran and three hits with Hadith. On the three pages there was the claim that the passage came from the Hadith but not which Hadith and where. I shorten the passage but still used Hadith on my next search and the third result listed was good, it included a reference to location.
Do to all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves. (Hadith) (2 p. 75)
I finally found a reference, (Hadith) (2 p. 75).

Time to confront Ali Sina. I sent him the following email.
Ali Sina,

You had a long article on your site claiming that Islam has no equivalent of the golden rule.

I did a quick Internet search and found this.

Do to all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves. (Hadith) (2 p. 75)

Please correct your site or reply with good reasons why not.

The debate you had with Yamin Zakaria is informative only if he is some kind of religious scholar. It is curious that he does not know of this Hadith. I am also wondering why you don't know about it.


Brian Macker
Well Ali Sina replied saying it was not true.
There is no such hadith. Please try to find it. What does (hadith 2 page 75) mean? This is not a correct reference.
Oops! I didn't know how these references were done and just assumed that it was correct. I haven't read the multi-volume Hadith. I went back to the article with the reference and actually read it. I hadn't read it because I was only interested in the reference. Well readint it I noticed a lot of the quotes from other religions had the (2 p. 75. I then realized he was referencing his own bibilography at the bottom of the page. The quote came from page 75 of the book "Everyone Is Right. A New Look at Comparative Religion and its Relation to Science". It was not a reference to the position in the Hadith. I'd hate to buy a book with a stupid title like that, after all how can everyone be right if they disagree, but I might have to do so to follow this chain.

There was more content to Ali Sinas reply. I am not going to include it all but he did point out:
I did some search on that. I saw the same statement is mentioned by a Bahai with no reference at all. I also saw the same is mentioned by a Muslim claiming it is from Sahih Muslim 138. This is not a proper reference.

In the following link this Muslim has quoted this along with lots of other good statements attributing them to Muhammad and even giving reference.

He is just lying. There are no such hadiths. Please try to find those references and see for yourself. Muslims think it is meritorious to lie. So not only they are not ashamed of fabricating things in order to make their religion look good, they actually think they will be rewarded for it.

Now let us suppose for the sake of argument that such hadith actually exists. Then we have another problem and that is it contradicts the Quran. Every Muslim would tell you that if a hadith contradicts the Quran that hadith is false.
I checked Sina's claim about Sahih Muslim 138. I found many references to this in a web search but Sina is correct. According to introduction in the reference Sina gave.
the Sahih Muslim is divided into 42 books on different subjects, each book containing many ahadith. The numbering system used by Muslim is consecutive and uninterrupted for the entire collection.
There are only two possible interpretations for h Muslim 138, one that it is the book number, or two part of the consecutive numbering system. Since there are only 42 books it cannot be the book number. So it must be from the consecutive numbering which results in this:
Book 001, Number 0138:
Al-Bara reported it from the Apostle (may peace and blessing be upon him) that he observed with regard to the Ansar, None but the believer loves them, none but the hypocrite hates them. He who loved them loved Allah and he who hated them hated Allah. I (the narrator) said: Did you hear this hadith from al-Bara'? He said: To me, he narrated it.
Well that certainly doesn't sound like the Golden Rule. Sina is correct.

Ali Sina's email ended with:
Please also continue reading my site and try to find its error. I will promise to remove them. I never claimed infallibility. I am sure you will find some errors, so let me know.
Well that's reasonable.

I ordered a used copy of the book, "Everyone Is Right. A New Look at Comparative Religion and its Relation to Science", and Isee where it claims the quote comes from. When I get the book I will write Ali Sina again to give my results, and will update this post.

I received the book today and it doesn't have a proper reference to the quote. On page 75 it says the following:
Do to all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves. (Hadith)
I found an article by Theodore P. Seto titled "The Morality of Terrorism" which includes this same quote. It doesn't provide a proper book and number of the quote. I have emailed him to ask for his source.

So far I have found no evidence of any version of the Golden Rule in Islam.

I had ordered the Al-Hadith of Mishkat-Ul-Masabih as translated by Maulana Fazlul Karmin. I have found a quote that I believe is suppose to be the source of the quote. (Mishkat-Ul-Masabih Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 2, 4w) this is at the bottom of page 115 in my translation.
4w.Mu'az-b-Jabal reported that he asked the Holy Prophet about the most excellent faith. He said: It is that you love for Allah and hate for Allah, and engage your tongue in the rememberance of Allah. He enquired: What more, O Prophet of Allah? He replied: It is that you love for men what you love for yourself and hate for them what you hate for yourself. -Ahamad

Note that this is a much weaker wording than "Do unto" since feeling emotions about what happens to others isn't the same as restricting your actions based on those emotions. I do not believe this counts as a golden rule. I will be investigating further.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Who's the Genetic Freak? Him or Her?

Foreign Dispatches has an item on Tom Cruise speculating that he might be a genetic freak because of his crooked teeth.

In the article the author theorizes that Kidman cannot get pregnant because of Cruises condition then gets into a discussion pondering if beauty is truly a marker of genetic fitness.

What does it say about beauty as a marker of reproductive potential that hardly anyone seems to have noticed Cruise's potentially sterility-denoting genetic anomaly until now? When you also take into account that some of the most strikingly beautiful women are actually genetically male, you have to wonder how much stock to put into the claim that looks tell you anything about reproductive fitness. It isn't exactly as if the typical mother of 10 is or ever was a potential Hollywood starlet either.

I am sad to admit that I noticed his malpositioned incisors and his crooked nose a long time ago. I was just too polite to mention it. I had just assumed he didn't have enough money for an orthodontist and a rhinoplasty, what with belonging to a cult and all. ;)

I guess the author didn't read the 'genetically male' article, since it theorizes that Kidman is the guilty party. You know beatiful woman, no children, ergo genetic freak. Which for some reason I find a hilarious joke on the author at Foreign Dispatches.

Let's be honest, I find it more plausible that Cruise has bad teeth because he is the illegitmate child of Austin Powers. Furthermore, that Kidman is not barren but is was on the pill. She refused to get pregnant with Cruise because he is a freak not of the genetic but religious kind. I know, I know, there are holes in my theory like the kids being adopted, but I didn't think we were holding the bar up that high.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

$10,000,000 Judgment Against Spammer

I just love it.

"On Thursday the 22nd, Robert Braver, an Oklahoma ISP owner who is a long time activist against both spam and junk faxes, received a default judgment of over $10 million against high profile spammer Robert Soloway and his company Newport Internet Marketing. Soloway has frequently been cited as one of the ten largest spammers in the world."

However, I don't think it is going to stop the spam. Probably would be better if the plaintiff was allowed one wack with a ball-pean hammer to the back of the Soloway's head.

Hi, my name is Karen and I work for Walmart

Walmart runs a radio ad in the New York area on WABC that goes something like this.

"Hi, My name is Karen. I work for Walmart out of Monroe, NY. When I first started working at Walmart I was working as a Prostitute Stalker and they approached me for a management position. I said why not. Now I am working as an assistant manager. Some day I want to be CEO. My name is Karen. I work at Walmart"
I'm paraphrasing everything except the "Prostitute Stalker". I know that isn't what she is trying to say but it sure sounds like it. I assume she is trying to say "Produce Stocker". I laugh every time I hear it. Have you ever heard the commericial?

Palestinian's Historical Claims Falsified

If you've ever looked into the history of the establishment of Israel you will know that the Israelis and the Palestinians make totally different historical claims. I recently came across and article on old documents that have been uncovered which don't make the Palestinian claims look so good.

Taught to use the language of National Liberation politics at Soviet bloc schools in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, today's Palestinian Arab leaders employ the rhetoric of Third World anti-colonial struggle. This has given us the spectacle of Cuba, which was the passion of leftist intellectuals in the 1960s and '70s, teaching Arabs to blow up Israeli Kibbutzim, which were the passion of leftist intellectuals in the 1950s.

This fabrication of events seems to be a common strategy of the Palestinians as is evidenced by several hoaxes that were orchestrated recently. The Jenin Massacre Hoax and the Al Dura shooting have both been shown to be hoaxes. You can see a video here showing how the shooting of the young boy Muhammed al Dura was faked by the directors of Pallywood.