From (Jeremiah McAuliffe)
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam,alt.religion.islam
Subject: Re: Answering Islam  --  a Muslim response
Date: Mon Sep 16 13:05:45 EDT 1996
Message-Id: <51k1d9$>

I've combined all posts into this one.

Abdul Saleeb  wrote:

>In response to article <502dal$>
>by (Jeremiah McAuliffe) 

 Well, Saleeb you did exactly what I thought you would do,
blow off the main points to concentrate on the secondary asides!
Typical. But then Geisler himself does this. I saw a reproduction of
a debate he had with Till....  

>As I mentioned, in a personal note to Mr. McAuliffe, I think neither party
>can add to the substance of this debate by being mean- spirited or

Then why do you do it? I admit I'm a smart-aleck as anyone who reads
sri knows, but it really only comes out when my bs detector goes off.
YOU use it here, quite a bit, actually, to cover up the fact that you
couldn't really respond to my points.

(The "Jeremiah-as-poor-detective" thing was so-so, recycling things I
said about Geisler is not-- originality counts Saleeb-- this is
Usenet, not a church conference )

> We all have our firm convictions and we are sincere about our
>faith, so let us proceed with a spirit of friendship even though we disagree
>about many fundamental things 

Um, your book was not in any way shape or form in the spirit of
friendship. *I* do not go around attacking other peoples' religions,
as you and your crew evidently do. Talk is cheap Saleeb, and this
kind of talk is real cheap in my book.

> I will interact with only certain important sections
>of his response).

I wonder how you judged this?

>>pseudonymous Abdul Saleeb is a "former Muslim". Please note, this
>>does NOT say that Saleeb is now a Christian.

>(on a humorous note, I don't think Jeremiah has missed his calling as a
>detective.  If "the Servant of the Cross" is not an indication of one's
>Christian convictions, I don't know what is!).

I think Saleeb has missed his mind. I indicated that the book
described one of the authors as a "former Muslim" the book itself
does NOT say that the co-author converted to Christianity. No great
detective work needed there! 

>To say that the 2nd part was written "without any reference whatsoever 
>to what was actually written in the first part" is no doubt a gross 
>exaggeration which any other reader besides Mr. Jeremiah will see 
>without any problems.

No doubt. The 2nd part does not once refer to anything in the first
part. Nor does it follow the same issues, nor format, etc.

> (like Jeremiah, I too had to get rid of a lot of the "convert's zeal"
>in my writing style). 

Oops! There's that sarcasm!  My zeal, bud, is for ripping apart
dishonest statements, regardless of my being Muslim and yes even
towards myself-- how do you think I'm able to pick 'em out so
easily?..... I, however, spend my time getting into it with my own
brother and sister Muslims-- not aggressively attacking other groups,
putting out books attacking them, or hanging in their newsgroups.

What you mistake for a "convert's zeal", sir, is the depth of my
surprise at you and your co-author's chutzpah. (We gotta get the Jews
in here somehow)

I do believe you have described yourself, convert-with-a-book.

>(Please give up the detective Colombo mode Jeremiah.  I am a real person
>with a family and you know my e-mail address).

As said, I am suspicious that you are who you claim to be. Don't
worry, I'm not gonna go searching for proof, so, "Colombo"? No.
I guess you don't trust me, though I said I would give my word before
God not to reveal your real name if you proved your identity by
showing me royalty checks, contract, etc. referring to the book.
Tha't ok. But, you have to realize that anonymity always weakens
one's case..... it goes with the territory.

>one of the things I always emphasize is respect for Islam, 

Too bad Geisler didn't listen, but had to twist Islam to make his
points. As I documented. As you have not responded to adequately.
Perhaps he can?

> The
>>Hellenists in Islam are the Mu'tazilites-- the speculative
>>philosophers-- which has, at heart, been soundly rejected by us.

>(once again, on a little humorous note...) I am not sure who the 
>BY US refers to at the end of the sentence. I am not sure that if 
>Mr. Jeremiah has been told that no one in Islam can PONTIFICATE on 
>what all Muslims believe. 

Is this the best you can do? I am talking out of a base of what I
know of standard Islamic teaching. Happy to post a partial
bibliography, if you want. And certainly, any other Muslim here is
free to chime in and correct me.

>to boast about Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd and other such intellectual 
>giants of their faith, I will inform them that according to 
>contemporary Muslims those people have been soundly rejected!  

>I wonder how other Muslims will react to such sweeping dismissals 
>(of course, this is not the first time that Jeremiah has made such 
>sweeping statements!).

My statement was that the Mu'atizilites were rejected. This is true.
To say that a general school of thought was rejected is not to say
that each adherant to that school is worthless, nor that there were
not ANY valid contributions or good influences from that school of
thought. And of course, I didn't say that, as you imply. Nor would I.

Your book attacks Islam per se, not particular schools, nor periods
of intellectual history. If you want to use as a basis for that
attack a general school of thought that is not representative of
standard Islamic thought, be my guest. But who do you think you are
kidding? You at least have to argue that what you are presenting IS
standard Islamic thought. To my understanding, it is not. And you
have not shown that it is.

>(I will have more comments later about whether Geisler's arguments are 
>as misplaced as Jeremiah claims) 


>but it seems to me that if the view 
>under consideration is not Jeremiah's view of Islam, then any discussion 
>is completely misplaced.  Is this an ego thing or just an ignorance about 
>the wide world of Islam and the many currents in Islamic theology and life?

Oops! There we go again! Good ad hominum. Would you like my

So, are you saying that the book is only attacking particular schools
of Islam? If that is the case, goodness! I did misread it...... so
sorry, we can stop here.

But wait! That ISN'T what the book claims to do.... carry on!

>Furthermore, for those who want to see some of Geisler's interaction with
>contemporary philosophy, I highly recommend his "Philosophy of Religion."
>Jeremiah's fallacy is what is called chronological snobbery!  The newer 
>an idea the more truthful it must be?  

(do you get a kickback on sales?)

Come again?

Wanna argue? 

Try and stick to the points and argue *them*. If you can. Even if I
do have chronological snobbery (good phrase, btw) its irrelevant.
We're talking about your book.

>>Rather, he immediately changes the subject and presents as
>>standard the view of some uneducated Muslims that trinitarian
>>monotheism is the same as tritheism, and the equally uneducated view
>>among some Muslims that the Christian father-son description of God
>>and Jesus is an anthropomorphized relationship derived from

>We are not trying to be dishonest or manipulative, but we are dealing 
>with the simple fact that the vast majority of Muslims that we talk 

Then that is what you need to say in the book. Isn't this, like, the
whole point of my critique of your book? You present this as somehow
standard, normal, academic-level Islamic thought and theology. It
isn't. At best, its an argument that Muslim religious education needs
a vast overhaul.

All it proves is that the vast majority of those you've talked to
don't know any Christian theology. It says nothing at all about
Islamic teachings per se. To use the views of the ignorant as a means
to attack an entire religion is, well, I'll let YOU decide what that

>I am not even going to stoop to the level of people such as Deedat 
>and his company about what their writings concerning the subject.

That's good, since it would be completely irrelevant to this,
wouldn't it? It would just be a "tit-for-tat"....

>>the concept of the "Godhead"-- the unknowable, completely
>>Transcendent nature of God-- has been discussed and fully accepted.
>>Hasn't Geisler read the classics? Hasn't he read John of the Cross's
>>"Dark Night of the Soul"? The Anonymous monk's "Cloud of Unknowing"?
>>Hasn't he ever studied the Christian idea of the via negativa? One
>>has to laugh! He doesn't even seem to know his own tradition.

>Jeremiah, we all know that there are and have been many currents 
>in Christian theology

Ok. Then you need to state in your book which current you are within
and coming from, rather than present the book as some grand attack on
Islam and grand defense of Christiantiy. The Crusades ended some time

 However, I mentioned a specific concept, that of the "Godhead". Why
not respond to that? I also named some Christian writers. Do you have
a problem with those writers? Are they anathema to whatever
theological current you ascribe to? You have failed to actually
respond directly to my points. 

>Thus in Christian theology we not only affirm 
>God's transcendence but also his immanence.

Did I deny this? No. You deny it of Muslim theology... though the
Qur'an tells us God is closer than one's jugular vein... We are not
talking about Christian theology, we are talking about your
misrepresentation of Muslim thought....

>  If you say God is 
>COMPLETELY transcendent, 

But the topic was God's *essence* and knowability of that essence,
wasn't it? And I brought up the Christian term "Godhead" and some
Christian authors.  Removing this issue from the original context
isn't gonna cut it, Saleeb.

>>He continues with a positive statement about God-- supposedly held by
>>us-- with no support whatsoever: "God is absolute Will". He will
>>continue to attribute this to the Muslim understanding of God. Of
>>course, there is no Qur'anic basis for this, and no Muslim would say

>(more on the support of this statement later...)

Lookin' for it. Can't find it. My point stands unchallenged.

>>He writes that we believe God to be One from both revelation and
>>reason. Wrong. We know it from revelation alone. Reason cannot
>>penetrate God. 

>Jeremiah,  I see the Qur'an as being so incredibly rich in natural 
>theology that I think you impoverish it by such a bizarre and 
>un-Qur'anic statement 

Oh, don't even go there..... the topic here was God's *essence*, or
Godhead, or transcendence, and knowability of that. If you think you
can try and make it seem like we were discussing God in more general
terms and get away with it, you can't. Get away with it, that is.

We were not discussing the dynamics between faith and reason, which
is the move you are trying to make here. All Islamic thought is based
on presuppositions provided by the Qur'an-- not presuppositions
provided by speculative reason.

 We apply reason *to* our encounter with the Qur'an. (and of course,
"reason" alone can produce a hanif-- a healthy and authentic
monotheist-- a term I'm sure you know.) But even then, we're in
different worlds. *We* would consider the proper use of reason to be
due to God's guidance, and all knowledge as coming from God, not our
own genius. Our response to the fact of "reason" is based on a
Qur'anic presupposition. 

Geisler is building his presuppositions on a foundation of reason.
And frankly, to my mind, at that level, I don't know if "reason" is
the word you want. IMHO, you need a word from the arts....

>(is it not ironic that I find myself defending 
>something in the Qur'an which you deny?!!!).  

No. What is ironic is that you think you actually responded to my
point on this issue. You didn't. You have here rephrased it as a
general "how do we know God exists" issue rather than the "how do we
know God's essence" which was the issue.

>I suspect that in addition to our faith, we also have deep differences 
>in our philosophical outlook which are to a great extent independent 
>from our "Holy Books."  

This would most likely be safe to say. And an issue that can be
easily accepted. If my basic assumptions and presuppositions are
different from yours, that is fine. We can talk about them, identify
them, etc. But keep in mind, YOU GUYS attacked, I didn't. Don't get
whiny when someone stands up to you with valid points.

>From Jochen Katz challenge to you on this 
>statement and your response (which in my opinion completely misses 
>the point),

I'm not sure what you are referring to here. Obviously, not a direct
response to my writing.

>Geisler sees a great deal of influence from Plotinus on historical 
>Islamic theology. 

Oh. So you guys are only attacking certain historical strains in
Muslim theology? I might join in support! But that is not the point
of your book. Nor do you say "we have problems with certain types of
Muslim theology". You are attacking Islam itself.

> The writings of Plotinus had a great deal of 
>impact also on Christian theology (on no less a figure than 
>St. Augustine).  So I don't think we need to be all bent out of 
>shape about it, Jeremiah.  

Yes, we do need to get bent out of shape. Because you present all
this as standard, normal, mainstream Islamic theology. It is not.

You go and publish an attack upon the foundations billions of people
have based their lives upon.... You base your attack on a
misrepresentation of your victim, or at least, a very selective view
of your intended victim..... And you have the nerve to say "don't get
bent out of shape"? Man! You must have some family jewels....

> I really believe that though 
>Geisler is no specialist in Islam he has done some fresh pioneering 
>work in this chapter concerning this issue.

This is completely off topic. Whether or not Plotinus' influence on
Islamic thought needs more study or not is totaly irrelevant here.
Unless the book is a historical study. But it is not. 

If he isn't a specialist, what's he doing writing like he is one?

If he's not the specialist, what were *you* doin', co-author??

> Once again, just because an issue seems 
>irrelevant to Jeremiah, it does not mean it is irrelevant for all 
>people!  A little knowledge is a dangerous thing Jeremiah, but any 
>amount of humility is better than nothing!

Words you might listen to, Saleeb. The issue may be of interest, but
not to the stated cause of your book. At best, all it could show was
that Plotinus had an influence, at a certain time. Then, the question
would be whether that influence was good or bad, in line with Qur'an
or not. It does nothing to support an argument against Islam itself.

>Just let me say once again, any Muslim reader who also believes the 
>height of Islamic intellectual history and people like Ibn Rush and 
>Ibn Sina were a gaseous burp better not boast about the glorious past 
>achievements of the Islamic mind! 

And let me again point out how you have distorted the whole issue,
and completely misrepresented my comments, and the context of those
comments, as stated above. This is a repeat, Saleeb.

>What a travesty Jeremiah!  Why do 
>you hate philosophy so much?

Oops! There you go again!

>Geisler never raises the issue of
>>Christian/Muslim theology of revelation, which he should have done to
>>be legit and provide at least a semblance of validity to his
>>refutation of Islam.)

>I had a prof. in seminary who used to say, "You can't say everything 
>when you say anything, otherwise you'll end up saying nothing."  No 
>book is exhaustive.  

And as I said, he needed this to provide a semblance of validity. No
one asked for, nor expects, an exhaustive study....

>the issue 
>of how our langugage can be meaningful in referring to God,

A fascinating issue. However, not quite to the point of these posts,
is it? Not quite to the point of responding to my charges against
your book of crass misrepresentation.

>>In addition, he uses talk of "essence" with a steamroller technique.
>>This philosophical topic is complicated, to say the least, but he
>>spews it out in such a manner that most people will see it only as
>>gobbledy-gook. Lots of complicated issues crammed into a few

>Sorry if it went over your head. But again, what was gobbley-gook to

No, bucky, it was not gobbledy-gook to me. And of course, I didn't
say that it was, did I?

> But yes, I agree that to the average Muslim or Christian 
>on the street this chapter was very complicated. 

Thank you. Then my accusation of Geisler using the "university
professor arguing with a five-year-old" technique still stands? After
all, who is the book written for?  I'm certainly not the demographic,
am I? 

>>He writes that in Islam God is not essentially just or loving. Odd.
>>Two of God's names in the Qur'an are "The Just" (Al-Adl) and "The
>>Loving" (Al-Wudud). Geisler's ignorance? Or his dishonesty? 

>Or a third possibility of Jeremiah being clueless about what Geisler is
>getting at by saying ESSENTIALLY! (More on this under the last parag.)

Always writing "more on this" doesn't work unless you DO write more
on it. Don't forget about us saying "God is Will", either.

Or, Saleeb, the first batch of possiblities still stands. 
You want to come back to "essence" when you have not responded to my
bringing up the Christian concept of "Godhead"? 

>>He continues to judge God by a human set of standards: "...he does
>>not do things because they are right; rather, they are right because
>>he does them. In short, God is arbitrary about what is right and
>>wrong." (Why doesn't Geisler capitalize personal pronouns for God?
>>Real strange for an Evangelical.) Y'see, it is *Geisler* who is
>>deciding the definition for "right", not God. How he gets to the idea
>>that a Muslim conception of God is that God is arbitrary in morality
>>(man! what a blasphemous statement) is beyond me. 

>(First the very insignificant point.  Pronouns for God are not capitalized
>in Arabic, Hebrew, or Greek, so why such a fuss for English, Jeremiah?)

Insiginificant is an understatement, with all the significant points
you have blown off.

You really are desperate aren't you? We are writing in English, I'm
quoting someone, I'm indicating that the mistake is original-- not my
typo. And such a fuss I made! Is this the best you can do?

>>From your last statement in the above paragraph, it seems to me that 
>much of what Geisler has been saying has gone beyond you 

Enlighten me, please. Of course, it *could* just be the underlying
philosophical differences here.... He is starting from the exercise
of human reason as a basis of morality. We start with the Qur'an as a
basis for morality.

>(I am sorry, 
>what did you do your Ph.D. in?). 

Couldn't you have been more original? I already pulled this on
Geisler. Copying smart-aleck remarks doesn't count-- especially when
you begin by calling for an end to their use in the first place.....
if you're gonna be a smart-aleck do it with gusto and wit! Or at
least try to. Oh, yeah, and they are not a substitute for addressing
the points. 

> The issue that you are referring to 
>in your paragraph is what is called Voluntarism.  It is getting late 
>and I don't want to get into deep philosophical discussions (by the way, 
>this is not just an issue between Christian and Muslim views, but in 
>the history of Christianity, we encountered this debate at the time of 
>Ockham and his nominalism).  Briefly stated, the problem is as Geisler 
>says in his first line in the above paragraph. 

And this might be fine! But not as a refutation of Islam per se and
its not in your book. We ARE talking about your book, aren't we?

 You would FIRST have to get into that deep philosophical issue,
establish your basic philosophical stance as valid over and against
the most standard, normal, Qur'anicly-based stance on the issue.....
and what is that, you ask, with regard to God's essence? 

Well, I go by the classic statements, paraphrased: the attributes of
God are known, how God is like this is unknown, believing they
actually describe God is obligatory, and speculative questions about
them are a bad innovation to Islamic practice.

Geisler would need to discuss the above in order to even get into the
issue of Muslim thought on immanence/transcendence.

 Geisler wants to start with the experience of reason, right off... I
start with something more akin to art than to reason (in the
Euro-American sense of the words).... Islam begins with the Qur'an.

Y'see, you guys present your book as attacking the *foundations* of
Islam-- not just particular varieties of Islam. In order to do so you
need to establish your *own* foundations..... it most definately gets
into the "pre-religious" deep philosophical issues. This is why, as I
wrote in Part 2 of all this, that I was surprised when you told me he
has a background in phenomenology. Why did he reject it so

>>Geisler.... writes: "...the Islamic view
>>of God involves a form of agnosticism... the heart of Islam is not to
>>*know* God but to obey him. It is not to *meditate* on his essence,
>>but to *submit* to his will." Quoting someone named Phander he
>>continues: "...they find themselves absolutely unable to know God...
>>Thus Islam leads to Agnosticism." Do we find ourselves "absolutely
>>unable to know God"? First I heard of it. But even then, note how he
>>has twisted the meaning of agnosticism. Agnosticism is the state of
>>not knowing whether or not God exists. At the very least, Muslims
>>know that God exists because of the miracle of the Qur'an. See the
>>(rather crass) manipulation? And of course, from the Qur'an, our
>>agnosticism evaporates in view of God's signs in creation, in history
>>and in ourselves which we are directed to meditate upon.

> As you mention it yourself, Geisler is 
>talking about the fact that "the Islamic view of God involves a FORM 
>of agnosticism..." but you go ahead and talk about agnosticism as the 
>"state of not knowing whether or not God exists." 

Oh, oh, oh, oh. Ya got me! Ouch!

>Now let us get to the heart of this whole issue.  Jeremiah, constantly
>charges us that we make no reference to Muslim sources or authors in 
>this discussion.  

That, my friend, is NOT the heart of the issue, nor at all accurate. 

And, mentioning it once is not "constantly", my semanticly strict
buddy. And on top of it, I do believe this was one of the differences
between the two parts of the book. The citations for the first part
are standard and well done, the second part slacks off noticibly.

Man! Ya had me, and then you blew it.... 

>Now allow me to make my reference to a Muslim authority
>(admittedly not in the book, 

Pfffft. Weak.

>If you really grasp what al-Faruqi is saying 

But, Saleeb, we are interested in what you and Geisler said in your
book. C'mon now, focus!

So, you still need to respond, at least, to the issues over "God is
absolute Will" and Al-Adl and Al-Wudud. 

Oh, but Part 2 is already up 'n posted!

Jeremiah McAuliffe/
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