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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dawah

Here are two recent examples of Islamic "outreach," known as dawah, where Muslims knowingly lie about the Quran in order to get Westerners more interested in Islam.

The first one is almost comical. A pamphlet written some thirty years ago by a French "scholar" and more recently updated purports to show that the Quran had a deep knowledge of modern science:
On the 9th of November, 1976, an unusual lecture was given at the French Academy of Medicine. Its title was "Physiological and Embryological data in the Qur'an". I presented the study based on the existence of certain statements concerning physiology and reproduction in the Qur'an. My reason for presenting this lecture was because it is impossible to explain how a text produced in the seventh century could have contained ideas that have only been discovered in modern times.
A number of examples are brought. For example:
The notion of a settled place for the sun is vividly described in chapter Yaa Seen of the Qur'an:

"The sun runs its coarse to a settled place That is the decree of the Almighty, the All Knowing." Qur'an, 36:38

"Settled place" is the translation of the word mustaqarr which indicates an exact appointed place and time. Modern astronomy confirms that the solar system is indeed moving in space at a rate of 12 miles per second towards a point situated in the constellation of Hercules ( alpha lyrae ) whose exact location has been precisely calculated. Astronomers have even give it a name, the solar apex.
Doesn't it sound more like the Quran is saying that the sun will keep traveling - and then stop?

His other examples are no more impressive:
Among the achievements of modern science is the "conquest" of space which has resulted in mans journey to the moon. The prediction of this event surely springs to mind when we read the chapter ar-Rahmaan in the Qur'an:

"O assembly of Jinns and men, if you can penetrate the regions of the heavens and the earth, then penetrate them! You will not penetrate them except with authority."

Qur'an,55:33

Authority to travel in space can only come from the Creator of the laws which govern movement and space. The whole of this Qur'anic chapter invites humankind to recognize God's beneficence.
The author doesn't seem to be bothered by the mention of "jinn", meaning, genies.

For some much more striking counterexamples of Quranic adherence to modern science, see here.

Another recent example of dakwah is a new film being produced that purports to show that the Quran is compatible with modern US values:
"The film talks about the major themes of the Quran, including the most controversial ones, like jihad, women, sex, polygamy, peace and violence," Masudi told AlArabiya.net.

Masudi explained that the documentary places Islam in a modern context and refutes the view that Islam is out-dated by linking the Quran to modern concepts like democracy, charity and diversity.

"There are so many similarities between Islam and the West because the Quran was meant to be for all of mankind, Muslims do not have a monopoly on Islam, on the book or on Allah," Masudi said.
The synopsis of the film on its website shows exactly how objective this film is:
A group of American professors is asked to probe deep into the minds of more than a billion Muslims. To find out what drives them to suicide bombings, multiple wives and religious fanaticism.

The team:

Mark Juergensmeyer: International expert on terrorism in religion and President, American Academy of Religion. Hossein Nasr, Harvard alumni, author of fifty books on Islam and science, and Professor at Washington University. Bruce Lawrence, Abrahamic Pluralist and bestselling author of From Hajj to Hip Hop. Maria Dakake, Editor Harper Collins Study Quran Encyclopedia and Professor, George Mason University. Jonathan A Brown, Omer Mozaffar, and Joseph Lumbard: all fine scholars of comparative religious traditions in prestigious universities of the United States.

The team is asked to find out if The Quran is out of step with modern times. It is directed to disregard traditional clergy, if need be.

Unaware of each others assignments, the panel delves deep into the fountainhead of this most enigmatic Faith: The Quran. It uncovers shocking facts, astonishing revelations and intriguing results about Islam. The findings raise as many questions as they answer.

The panel’s no- holds- barred, hard hitting findings include:

“In Islam, sex is a good thing. Allah is not a Muslim specific God; even Arabic speaking Jews and Christians use the word Allah in their liturgies. Polygamy is a blessing. We are not God and God is not us. It is mandatory for Muslims to revere all the Prophets of Judaism and Christianity. Muslims do not worship Muhammad. Everybody is a born Muslim!
Congratulations, world. According to these prominent American professors, you have all just retroactively become Muslim.