Debate Release: Which is the True Path for Salvation? Islam or Christianity – Br. Ijaz vs Rev. Steven

We’re happy to announce that the second event of E&AM’s Rev. Steven’s debate series with myself, Br. Ijaz (MDI, CC) has been published on Br. Nazam’s YouTube channel.

We’d like to thank Rev. Steven for the recording, which he provided in a very quick and efficient manner. The first debate’s recording will be procured this week and will be published soon. E&AM are holding off on the publishing as they are editing the video for their own purposes. We have opted to publish the raw recording of the debate itself. There are some minor issues with the recording’s audio, but this is due to the sound system at the Church. The speakers located next to me were inoperable, which meant that the only way I could have heard Rev. Steven or the moderator Pastor Kris speak was by listening to their echoing voices throughout the Church. That made it somewhat difficult to catch everything they were saying, unless we spoke away from the microphones in front of us. This issue is prevalent in the raw recording when I speak, I don’t know if Rev. Steven will try to correct this issue in their version.

The problem is perhaps most notable during the audience’s question and answer period, in which the audience’s microphone is connected to the speakers and I was finally able to hear without trying to figure out what was being said from the echo! Highly annoying issue to be honest. While not present in this version (as the camera man zoomed in and out), I had passed a note during Steven’s opening to the Pastor, asking about the echo and my inability to hear Steven. I then passed this note to one of my companions, but the issue was not solved. Later on, just before the question and answer began, I addressed the sound engineers over the microphone hoping they’d be able to fix the issue, however they were unable to. I don’t think this affected my performance during the event in anyway, but it was a hindrance to the flow of events. That and two annoying female audience members who would constantly be speaking loudly in the front row while I was speaking. Other than that, the video is good quality, but the first debate’s video is in HD. This video’s sound is alright, but we will try to see if an alternative version with better sound can be uploaded or if Steven’s version will fix the issues.

Until then, this is the raw recording of the event. No editing whatsoever. Let us know what you think.

and Allah knows best.

Post-Debate Remarks: What is the True Faith of Jesus’ Disciples

My friend and EAM Associate Apologist, Luis sent these books with Steven. Thanks Louie!

My friend and EAM Associate Apologist, Luis sent these books with Steven. Thanks Louie!

I’ve taken some time to think about the debate I had on Friday past with Reverend Steven Martins. Before, I speak on the debate itself I’d like to thank Br. Asad – the event’s host, Br. Haseeb – the videographer, MYTT – the organizers, and Pastor Kris – first time debate moderator and local host of Reverend Stevens. The event was well attended, some 200 – 300 persons, although we got off to a late start ~30 minutes, by the time the opening statements began we had a sizable crowd which grew steadily throughout our presentations. Due to our late start, we also had a late conclusion to the event, close to midnight according to our host and organizers. I however, having just come out of surgery, left 30 minutes after the debate. Reverend Steven’s timing wasn’t the best, but having just come out of surgery two weeks prior to the event, I was skeptical as to how I’d be able to manage a first time stage debate in front of such a large crowd. Thankfully, I was able to hold down my own and go through with the event.

The crowd seemed very well pleased with both presentations, occasionally I’d glance at the crowd and see quite a number of smiling faces, as well as a swelling crowd of guests. I have to admit that I was completely thrown aback by both Reverend Stevens and Pastor Kris’s (on the ‘s, see William Strunk Jr. and EB White’s, “The Elements of Style”) kind words. Pastor Kris’s introduction of, “I’ve only met Ijaz a few minutes now, but I must say he is a handsome young man”, was an excellent start to the night’s proceedings. No doubt, I do agree with the Pastor (why yes, I am being cheeky). Reverend Stevens is a very good orator and I must applaud him for speaking clearly, consistently and loudly enough. Myself on the other hand, had the mic adjusted a few minutes into the debate but the audio recording was not affected (the audience may have been affected, but that was a minor issue as far as I was told). Unfortunately, the Christian videographer had issues with his recording and thus despite having two cameras present, only one actually recorded the event.

Beyond that hiccup, the event proceeded smoothly. I have been told by persons who were at the event that the one on one between myself and the Reverend during our crossfire section was extremely thrilling and quite the spectacle to have watched. The question and answer following the main debate was quite interesting. Unfortunately there was one belligerent (Christian?) man who found my comments in relation to 2 Corinthians 12:6-7 to be somewhat offensive. Although my memory could be wrong, I have conferred with several others and they have agreed that my recounting of the events is indeed accurate (if I’m wrong, shoot me an email or place a comment, I’ll gladly correct myself), it proceeded as follows:

Questioner: Why are you using your intellect in reading scripture? The message of the cross is foolish to those who think they are wise! (He then proceeds to ask me a series of loosely related questions).

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re asking, can you please clarify?

Questioner: (Expressing his ire with my not understanding him proceeds to ask several more questions and shout after the mic has been taken from him; both Christian and Muslim sides agreed this would be done in the event someone wanted to start their own debate.)

 

I do fear that my reaction may have gone over his head. I have been told that some of my comments were too witty for certain sections of the crowd (I’m not sure how to respond to that), but essentially, if I turned off my intellect as the man was demanding I do, then it’s quite clear I wouldn’t be able to understand what he was asking. I will excuse him though, his anger and emotions may have gotten the better of him. Although the irony is difficult to escape, there was a deeper level of irony that occurred to me then but alas there was no time to mention it (time limit of 2 minutes had rushed quickly by!), here is a man who reads his scripture without using intellect, while those who constructed his scripture (textual critics) are required to use their intellects in their discipline! I seem to have angered the man with my being unable to understand him, but perhaps if he used his – intellect – it may have helped. Nonetheless, that was the only odd event for the evening and we proceeded to finish line shortly thereafter.

Following the event, I’ve received great feedback from both sides on the presentations for the debate. Fortunately, the questions the audience asked were directly relevant to the next topic, “What is the True Path of Salvation: Islam or Christianity?”, which sets a great stage for the next debate. I’m concerned that the Christian side which is arranging the recording may not be able to follow through on those arrangements for the next debate. I’d be quite disappointed if that is the case, but I do hope and pray that this next event goes as smoothly if not more smoothly than the first. Reverend Stevens and myself do certainly approach these topics quite differently, and I think the audience benefits greatly from our differences. I do look forward to our second and last event for his Trinidad Mission’s Trip. Please keep us in your prayers.

Debate Special: Introducing Reverend Steven Martins

As the debate events reach ever closer, both Reverend Stevens and myself have authored introductory pieces on our mission, our works and our backgrounds. You can read my introduction at the E&AM website, below you’d find Reverend Steven’s introduction. As he has mentioned on the E&AM website, we’re expecting and catering for ~400+ for each of the two debates. We’re both excited, thrilled and most definitely humbled to be at the service of our religious communities.


 

Rev. Steven Martins

Rev. Steven Martins

I would firstly like to thank Bro. Ijaz Ahmad of Calling Christians for this opportunity to introduce myself to the Muslim community and to the people of Trinidad & Tobago. I also would like to express my thankfulness to his team who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to put together our first debate on “What is the True Faith of Jesus’ Disciples?” along with Pstr. Kris Maharaj of the Jesus Worship Centre for receiving us and co-ordinating our itinerary.

My name is Rev. Steven Martins and I am the founder and lead-apologist for Evangelium & Apologia Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization stationed in Toronto, Canada. I am a York University graduate and am working towards a Masters of Arts in Christian Apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary.

 

I have studied and developed my ministry under the tutelage of RZIM Canada’s Dr. Andy Bannister, Dr. Tony Costa and Dr. Joseph Boot. I have also served as the chief-organizer of 2014’s Classical Debate between Jay Smith and Dr. Shabir Ally.

I am traveling down to Trinidad with my beloved wife Cindy from February 18 to March 1 to speak at schools, churches, colleges and Universities on apologetic topics such as The Problem of Evil, The Question of Suffering, Biblical Creation, Biblical Archaeology and other topics that we are requested to cover. Amongst our bookings, we have two debates with Bro. Ijaz, one of which takes place on Friday February 20 (topic mentioned above) and the second on Saturday February 28 on “Islam or Christianity: Which is the True Path of Faith?” In truth, although our ministry currently had its sights on Latin-America for this year, God opened the door for us to arrive in Trinidad & Tobago for His divine will and purposes.

As a Christian, I have often been asked why I have endorsed or participated in debates with different faith communities. My response has always been consistent with my faith and worldview, that I am concerned for the salvation of other people and would like to communicate the truth of the Gospel to all nations and cultures. However, I can certainly do that through other mediums, why then choose a debate? Because I also believe that multi-faith communities should engage each other in great positive discussions on theology and spirituality. Instead of embracing misconceptions derived from other people’s opinions, why not ask a Muslim why he believes what he believes on certain topics and issues? Why not hear what other people have to say? Why not present our arguments and cases on the table, and have a civilized discussion where disagreements and arguments can be explored, tested, and refined? Debates and dialogues are a great way to instill peace through respectful and honorable communication, while also getting to know our respective neighbors and friends. We can either isolate our communities from each other, or we can promote engaging discussions which will only better improve society and its internal relations through respect and honor for one another.

Thank you for receiving my wife and I into your beloved country; it will be an honor to meet with you and to engage in fruitful discussion on the dates of our debates.

May God Bless you,

Steven Martins
Executive Director
Evangelium & Apologia Ministries
www.eamcanada.org

Response to ISIS’s Beheading of 21 Coptic Christians

Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

You would soon conquer Egypt and that is a land which is known (as the land of al-qirat). So when you conquer it, treat its inhabitants well. For there lies upon you the responsibility because of blood-tie or relationship of marriage (with them). And when you see two persons falling into dispute amongst themselves for the space of a brick, than get out of that. He (Abu Dharr) said: I saw Abd al-Rahman b. Shurahbil b. Hasana and his brother Rabi’a disputing with one another for the space of a brick. So I left that (land). – Saheeh Muslim, Book 31, Hadith #6174.

 

 

حَدَّثَنِي زُهَيْرُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، وَعُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا وَهْبُ بْنُ جَرِيرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، سَمِعْتُ حَرْمَلَةَ الْمِصْرِيَّ، يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ شُمَاسَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي بَصْرَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي، ذَرٍّ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ إِنَّكُمْ سَتَفْتَحُونَ مِصْرَ وَهِيَ أَرْضٌ يُسَمَّى فِيهَا الْقِيرَاطُ فَإِذَا فَتَحْتُمُوهَا فَأَحْسِنُوا إِلَى أَهْلِهَا فَإِنَّ لَهُمْ ذِمَّةً وَرَحِمًا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ أَوْ قَالَ ‏”‏ ذِمَّةً وَصِهْرًا فَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ رَجُلَيْنِ يَخْتَصِمَانِ فِيهَا فِي مَوْضِعِ لَبِنَةٍ فَاخْرُجْ مِنْهَا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَرَأَيْتُ عَبْدَ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنَ شُرَحْبِيلَ بْنِ حَسَنَةَ وَأَخَاهُ رَبِيعَةَ يَخْتَصِمَانِ فِي مَوْضِعِ لَبِنَةٍ فَخَرَجْتُ مِنْهَا ‏.‏

and Allah knows best.

Islamic Response to ISIS/ Daesh’s Book Burning

According to an article by the National Post, Daesh has massacred a significant quantity of books they deemed to be “unIslamic”:

BAGHDAD — When Islamic State group militants invaded the Central Library of Mosul earlier this month, they were on a mission to destroy a familiar enemy: other people’s ideas. Residents say the extremists smashed the locks that had protected the biggest repository of learning in the northern Iraq town, and loaded around 2,000 books — including children’s stories, poetry, philosophy and tomes on sports, health, culture and science — into six pickup trucks. They left only Islamic texts.

Mideast Iraq Libraries In Danger

I have a great disgust for those people who burn literature, whether they agree with its contents or not. The hallmark of an intellectual society is one that can harbour ideas and beliefs they don’t agree with. As a Muslim, I study Christianity and Judaism, I don’t agree with everything those faiths teach but it is my job to entertain differing arguments and to approach them in a sensible manner. Acts like these seem more Christian to me than Islamic, as book burning is something condoned by the New Testament:

Large numbers of those who had practiced magic (περίεργα, περίεργος) collected their books and burned them up in the presence of everyone. When the value of the books was added up, it was found to total fifty thousand silver coins. – Acts 19:19 (NET).

Most New Testaments carry the translation of magic, but the primary meaning of “περίεργος” according to Strong’s Lexicon is:

of persons: over-careful; curious, meddling, a busy-body; of things: over-wrought; superfluous; curious, uncanny; subst: curious arts

A more English friendly translation according to Helps Ministries Word Studies is:

spending excessive time (effort) where it doesn’t belong (or should not happen).

Dr. James Dunn explains this term a bit more concretely, he says:

‘not doing any work but meddling/ being busy bodies’ (BDAG 800). The inference is probably that the individuals referred to were so caught up with their convictions that they spent time disrupting the work of other believers by their continual attempts to propagate their views. – ‘Beginning from Jerusalem: Christianity in the Making’, p. 717.

In other words, not sorcery or magic, but whatever Christians found to be challenging of their own views. Which is exactly what Daesh/ ISIS is doing, burning books which challenge their rhetoric. In response to this, Ibn Hazm states:

دعوني من إحراق رق و كاغد
و قولوا بعلم كي يرى الناس من يدري

Leave this (ridiculous) burning of books and texts,
Articulate your arguments and let the people decide (who is upon falsehood). – Ibn Hazm as quoted by Mufti Abu Layth al Maliki.

and Allah knows best.

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