From (Jeremiah McAuliffe)
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam,alt.religion.islam
Subject: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (1/2)
Date: Mon Sep 09, 1996
Message-Id:   <512o15$>

Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Islam Book Part 2
Jeremiah McAuliffe,

Bism Allah, al-Rahmen, al-Raheem...

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. This is seen in his
talk of God's "essence", and in what appears to be Geisler's
violation of his own Christian tradition through intellectual
violence to the Christian understanding of "Godhead".

In the meantime, Jochen Katz, who issued the provocative challenge,
has not come to the defense of Geisler-Saleeb. However, I did receive
a forwarded e-mail from someone who claims to be Saleeb, the
pseudonymous "former Muslim" co-author. While Jochen personally
attests to the identity of this person, and I am inclined to trust
Jochen on such a matter, I am still suspicious over the issue of this
person's identity and if he is who he claims to be. I found it
particularly strange, or rather, as adding to my feeling that 
the book is strangely inconsistent with itself, when Saleeb informed
me that Geisler's background is in phenomenology. This is a trend in
philosophy-psychology, and an area in which I have a strong
background, having studied under Adrian van Kaam who established the
phenomenological methodology for psychology. There is not one hint of
phenomenology in Geisler's book.

I pointed out to both of them that in that I was challenged publicly,
and I posted publicly, their responses should also be public.

I visited Jochen's web site. I found it disingenuous. I found
"Saleeb's" testimony very weak, but that is not the issue here.

I have now read through most of the whole book again. In Part 1 I
said how I'd have to go through page by page. But this will not be
necessary as much of it is a (weak and problematic) defense of
Christian theology. I won't get into that issue.....

p. 137. Islamic "Agnosticism"

Comments on this section were begun in Part 1.

Geisler writes that "according to traditional Islamic teaching, God
is not essentially good but only called good because he does good.
[Geisler does not capitalize personal pronouns for God] He is named
from his actions." No. In Islam, God is named from His
self-revelation in the Qur'an. In addition, as seen in part one, with
this move Geisler is the one defining "good" and then holding God to
judgement. For us, it is God Who *defines* good and bad for us.

 In his manipulation, Geisler wants to say that we could even call
God evil in that He causes evil. But this is a trick. Y'see, he would
have to get into the very sticky issue-- for all monotheists-- of the
"problem of evil". How can a good God allow evil? I'm not going to
get into it here, but the Islamic view of "evil", especially in light
of Qur'anic verses such saying it is God who sends laughter and
tears, riches and poverty,  is not quite how those from
Euro-American-Christian traditions understand it. Geisler, to have
some intellectual integrity here, would have had to get into this
area of theology. Perhaps he knows that the Islamic understanding of
this issue has a greater self-consistency than Christian theology
which is based upon the bloody death of an innocent man for the
guilty masses?

Note also, that Geisler has yet to argue from the Qur'an, the
absolute bedrock foundation of all Muslim thought. And we see this on
p. 137, as Geisler continues his misrepresentation of Islamic thought
(again, I ask his defenders: is this done out of ignorance or
dishonesty?). He writes: "At the root of medieval views of God is an
entrenched Neo-Platonism, springing from.... Plotinus" and that this
move "heavily influenced Muslim monotheism". Is this book a survey of
intellectual history, a study of Medieval philosophy, or a refutation
of Islam? Does Geisler really think he can get away with such a crass
manipulation? I am sorry, but I can do nothing in response to that
other than question Geisler's grasp of academic integrity. Perhaps,
in refuting Christianity in and of itself we should rely upon
Torquemada's writings during the period of the Inquisition? It would
be a similarly dishonest move as what Geisler does in this attempt to
refute Islam.

Geisler continues by referring to Aquinas in order to refute the
Neo-Platonism that supposedly had such an impact upon Islamic
monotheism. There is no point in dealing with this since Geisler's
whole approach isn't even based upon what we actually believe, nor is
it based upon how we have responded to intellectual trends-- such as
Neo-Platonism-- which we rejected as invalid. (Frankly, I can't even
believe that he is talking in terms of material, instrumental, and
efficient causes. Are you SURE he studied phenomenology, Saleeb????)

p. 139 Here he continues with his problem with God's absolute
Transcendence by asking us "... how can a person worship someone
about which he can know nothing?" Is this what Islam says, Mr.
Geisler? Did you even read the Qur'an? Or are you just rambling off
the top of your head? What is especially silly here (aside from the
fact that he does not seem to understand Buber's "I and Thou" which
he refers too-- certainly an improvement over the Scholastic stuff)
is that one might ask this question about one's human beloved! Does
anyone ever really "know" another person, even an intimate or a
spouse? No. Does that mean one knows nothing at all about that
person? No. He argues an absurdity.

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.

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.....

Geisler then gets into the rather sticky issue of free-will vs.
determinism: the problem of how can humans be free creatures in light
of God's omniscience and omnipotence. Previously, he should have
discussed both Christian and Muslim theology of revelation, but he
did not; theology of the problem of evil, but he did not; nor will he
discuss this issue as he should to at least provide a semblance of
validity to his arguments.

Of course, he wants to present Islam as being in denial of human
freedom. Now, get this: he writes that there are some "protests" on
behalf of Islam's actually believing in free will. Who does he cite
as giving a Muslim "protest" for free-will? Fazlur Rahman from the
University of Chicago. I have to laugh that Geisler would relegate
this guy to a "protest" voice within orthodox Islam. Especially since
later in the book he again refers to Rahman with noticeably more
respect! So, frankly, to my mind, he isn't even consistent (or is it
honest?) with regard to his own sources. He'll pick and choose as he
pleases from an author's work, depending upon whether it fits
Geisler's misrepresentation of Islamic thought. Pfffffft. I'd love to
know how he thinks Christianity deals with the issue of

He footnotes Goldziher stating support for the Islamic position on
free-will, but then has to add that "...a careful look at the context
of each of the passages, as well as the traditional Islamic
interpretation of them, reveals just the opposite" (i.e. that we do
not really believe that the human is free.) Well Mr. Geisler, feel
free to provide that "careful look" anytime you want! Too bad you
didn't provide it here. Can we expect a sequel to this excuse for a
"refutation" of Islam? One where you might actually provide some
legit support for your statements such as this one?

(As an aside, some think I'm too cranky, too smart-alecky. But y'know
what? I have no sympathy, nor respect, for people who do what Geisler
does in this book. Regardless of the fact that I am a Muslim, imho,
this work merits nothing but our disdain and contempt on basic
intellectual/academic grounds.)

Jeremiah McAuliffe/
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