From Abdul Saleeb <>
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam
Subject: Re: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (1/2)
Date: Thu Sep 19 11:53:41 EDT 1996
Message-Id: <51rqa5$>

Dear Readers and Mr. McAuliffe,

This is a response to Part 2 (1/2) of Jeremiah's critique of our book,
"Answering Islam:  The Crescent in the Light of the Cross.  The majority 
of section 1/2 of part 2 is a summary of what Jeremiah has already said 
in Part 1, and I have already responded to those charges (so I will not 
repeat myself).  Of course, Jeremiah has charged me with ignoring all his 
main points in my response to Part 1, but I hope that the reader will see 
that this is not the case and from my limited perspective I honestly 
believe I have more than adequately responded to Part 1 of Jeremiah's 

Now on to Part 2....

>In Part 1 of my response to the challenge to back up my negative
>evaluation of this book we saw how Geisler will manipulate in order
>to refute Islam. Some of his techniques are to treat the opinions of
>uneducated Muslims as standard opinions, to simply attribute to us
>things we do not say, and to restrict himself to Medieval
>Scholastic/Thomist styles of philosophy-- a style with
>presuppositions rejected by Muslims as invalid. 

As I have already said, I hope I was able to show in my response to Part 1,
that we did not attempt to manipulate in order to refute Islam.  In response
to the THREE techniques that Jeremiah refers to in the above paragraph
(Jeremiah, am I getting your points?), let me say be way of a brief response;
1.  The opinions that Jeremiah attributed to uneducated Muslims and not as
standard, was in fact opinions held (among multitudes of others) by the
world-renowned Qur'anic commentator Yusuf Ali and in fact (from the way I
see it) based on the Qur'an itself.
2.  In response to the charge that we attribute to Muslims things they do
not say, I provided a quote from a highly educated, Orthodox Muslim
theologian and the founder of MSA, al-Faruqi and thus proving that our
critique of the Islamic view is not baseless.  Jeremiah's response to this
quote by al-Faruqi was some thing to the effect that he is not concerned
with al-Faruqi but with our book.  Well, our book (actually our chap. 7) is
a critique of an Islamic view defended by al-Faruqi, a main-stream
contemporary Muslim and not a Medieval Mut'azelite!!!
3.  Several things need to be mentioned about our "scholastic" style of
argumentation.  First, this style is used only in our discussion of Islamic
monotheism (the rest of the book has many references to contemporary Muslim
writers), since most comtemporary books on Islam by Muslim writers, do not
have any significant treatment of the subject of God (except the emphasis 
on His Oneness).  Thus we had to rely and interact with classical Islamic
"creeds" and writings. As I mention in chap. 1 of our book (p.19).  As an
example I cited the popular "Introduction to Islam" (I believe I got that
copy from the Imam of the central Mosque in Washington, DC) by Muhammad
Hamidullah (Paris: Centre Culturel Islamique, 1969).  You find in that work
chapters on political system, judicial system and economic system of Islam,
but no chapter on the being and character of God! Second, the classical
style of debating is not nearly as "outdated" among Muslims around the world
as Jeremiah thinks.  I think if Jeremiah visited al-Azhar in Cairo or the
Feizeiye, in Qom, Iran, he would realize how much of his struggle with our
"style"  is not because of Islamic rejection of it but due mostly to his
upbringing as an American and not a Middle Easterner.

Since in the following paragraphs there are some references to prophet
Muhammd (I use the term prophet for respect not because I believe in the
prophethood of Muhammad), I will make some brief comments...

>He writes: "Some critics have suggested that the extremely
>transcendent Muslim view of God has led some Muslim sects to deify
>Muhammad." First, who are the critics? Second, which "sects"? Third,
>how can something be "extremely" transcendent? How can you imply that
>God is too transcendent? How can you do such violence to your own
>tradition which also clearly talks about God's absolute
>transcendence? We may never get answers to those questions.... as
>there are none.

1.  who are the critics?  Numerous Christians who live all over the 
Islamic world and have observed the daily realities of "folk Islam" 
(not your "academic" Islam, Jeremiah.  Sort of like the difference 
between intellectual Catholicis in the US and the practice of popular 
religion in South America).

2.  Which sects?  Please see the works by (a Christian from a Muslim
country) Michael Nazir-Ali, "Frontiers in Muslim-Christian Encounter" and
Annemarie Schimmel (a Sufi Muslim in a Christian country) "And Muhammad is
His Messenger."  I personally grew up in a Sufi sect which deified its "Pir"
and host of other saints. Every Sufi sect that I know or have heard about
has almost deified its "Pir."  I am also told by my sister who lives in
Turkey, the very term Shi'ite has the connotation of referring to the
Muslim sect that worships Ali.

3. If we say God is TOO transcendent or ABSOLUTE transcendence, we run into
the "form" of agnosticism that we talked about in Part 1, thus our critique
of al-Faruqi's main-stream view of Islamic monotheism.

>On p. 140 he uses "Qawwalis (a popular cultural event)..." as some
>kind of support that some of us deify Muhammad. Well, there is some
>fuel for those who disapprove of this event! I wonder what culture he
>is talking about. Not mine, certainly! "The popular deification of
>Muhammad, who violently opposed any such idolatry, only shows the
>theological bankruptcy of the Muslim view of God..." No Geisler, if
>such an enormity did in fact take place, this only shows the
>bankruptcy of certain accretions to Islam, or the bankruptcy of
>Islamic theological education. It most definitely does not show the
>"bankruptcy" of standard Islamic thought. Frankly, my disdain for
>Geisler's "thought" (I have to put it in quotes.) only grows.....

I honestly do not want to be rude, but your first sentence in the above
paragraph strikes me as a typical, ignorant and arrogant American attitude.
What exactly is your American "Muslim culture" ? And the implication  that
if it is not part of your culture then obviously it must not be as real!
For those interested in reading a scholarly treatment of these issues from 
a MUSLIM perspective, see Schimmel's work "And Muhammad is His Messenger."
Geisler's comment about the bankruptcy of Islamic view of God is a point
that can be debated by both sides (between unsympathetic outside critics and
sympathetic inside believers).  From my perspective also (and I hope I don't
get stoned for saying this) I view the most intellectually vibrant aspect of
Islam to be in Sufism and yet I see Sufism as radically opposed to Sunni or
Shi'ite Orthodoxy and thus a sign of the bankruptcy of STANDARD Islamic 

More in the next section......


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