Tag Archives: 2015

Easter Message: Death has Dominion, Mastery and Power over the Christian God

It’s Easter, so today you’d be seeing a lot of celebrations over God’s “victory over death”. Slogans en masse such as, “He is Risen!” Perhaps though, one of the most popular verses of the Bible one would see is as follows:

  • For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. – Romans 6:9 (NIV).
  • We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. – Romans 6:9 (ESV).
  • knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. – Romans 6:9 (NASB).
  • because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. – Romans 6:9 (HCSB).

That last line is of great interest. If death no longer rules over God, does it mean that death at one point have power, dominion, mastery, rule over God? Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, says of this passage:

“death hath no more dominion over him: it once had dominion over him; it held him under its power for a time, according to the divine determination”

If God is all powerful, then how is it possible for death to be greater than God, to have power and mastery over God? Some Christians have tried to explain this by saying that God allowed Himself to “temporarily surrender” His own dominion over death, but this leads us to the inevitable problem of the Christian God losing one of its attributes, thus rendering God, powerless. What’s worse is, if God gave up His power over death, and then death overcame God – it would stand to reason that death would be more powerful than God and thus God could never “defeat” death.

In conclusion, this passage is vital for a Muslim’s da’wah to Christians. They quote it and share it, which makes it easier for us to reach out to them. This passage leads to unsettling beliefs for the Christians, God sets up rivals to Himself, God loses essential attributes, God is no longer all powerful, or at the least it can lead them to denying the hypostatic union (two natures in Christ, one divine, one human), by them arguing that death had power over one of the natures – the human or the divine, which is in itself blasphemy since the natures are unified and it is heresy to split them apart.

In contrast, in Islam, God is the master of life and death:

“How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned.” – Qur’an 2:28.

and Allah knows best.

Debate Video: Was Jesus the Son of God or Only the Prophet of God – Br. Ijaz Ahmad & Dr. Tony Costa


The debate video has been added to our ‘Debates page‘, and is available on YouTube:

I’ve received a ton of positive feedback about the debate. There are a number of reviews expected to be published soon. The following review is from a Muslim YouTube user who watched all of the debates from the Trinity Channel’s Debate Marathon, featuring Dr. Shabir Ally, David Wood, Dr Costa and myself, he says:

I just found this channel, and during the past week or so watched all these debates against Muslims.

As a Muslim convert from Christianity, I must say that the Christians on here are good at debating but they do it in a slick way. That is that they always take the Qur’an and twist it back onto the Muslim by saying things like “According to your book, blah blah blah.”

This debate was the best one so far because Ijaz went into it know this was going to happen and in his initial statement didn’t even mention the Qur’an and used just Christian ideology to make his point. I was thinking that we would finally get a good discussion going.

Unfortunately, right in the first rebuttal, the Christian side went right into the same tactics as in all the previous debates. This is what made this one feel like a big rehash of the previous week.

Another popular Muslim author, and convert from Christianity, Br. Abu Zakariya of Many Prophets One Message posted on Facebook:

A big congratulations to our brother Ijaz Ahmad on last night’s debate with Dr. Tony Costa. It was a resounding victory for Ijaz, despite lacking the academic credentials and decades of experience that his opponent possesses.

May Allah increase Ijaz in goodness. Ameen.

One other mini-review which took place directly after the debate, is as follows by our esteemed and scholastic, Br. Mansur:

Dr. Costa misunderstood your arguments. He misunderstood the topic of the debate. Perhaps he had not given enough thought on the subject. It is strange indeed to see his logic at play here. Suppose the debate title was: ‘ Is the Qur’an the word of God’ or ‘is Muhammad a Prophet of God?’ Merely quoting the Qur’an or the early followers of Islam, or even contemporary non-Muslims who stated this belief of Muslims does not prove any of these propositions. Dr. Costa presumed wrongly that the debate was ‘ Does the Bible claim that Jesus is the son of God or …’. I can accept that the laity can be a victim of poor comprehension on this but I don’t expect that from learned individuals.

The approach I took in this debate has piqued the interest of the inter-faith dialogue community. I chose not to use the historical/ Biblical interpretation route (Son of God has many meanings). Rather, I accepted that my opponent believes that Jesus was God/ the Son of God. From that, I argued based on the philosophy of religion and on the ontology (nature of his God), that Jesus did not meet or fulfill the criteria of God (defined in the debate as a maximally perfect being).

In other words, I asked very important questions. If Jesus is God, does he demonstrate the qualities of a deity? Do the beliefs of Christians regarding the Son of God’s place in the Trinity, make any sense? Are those beliefs consistent, are they rational? Do they contain heretical teachings? Do Christians appeal to heresies to defend the Trinity?

P1: If the beliefs about the Son of God by Christians are inconsistent and irrational, then Jesus is not the Son of God.

P2: The beliefs about the Son of God by Christians are inconsistent and irrational.

C: Therefore Jesus is not the Son of God.

The debate was absolutely wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with Dr. Costa, and I was very much pleased with the outcome. Quite a lot of Muslims thanked me for introducing these arguments, and for not repeating the same arguments that have traditionally been used for debates about this topic since time immemorial. I always try to introduce new information, new arguments, new research when I debate. The goals are to raise and advance the level of intellectual discourse, to discuss the fundamental and essential beliefs about our respective faiths, and finally to educate the public.

May Allah reward all those who take their time to watch the debate, Ameen.

And Allah knows best.

Sam Shamoun’s Tirade Against Dr. Shabir Ally – Hypocrisy Incarnate

The GED “educated” Sam Shamoun, has recently accused Dr. Shabir Ally of being, among other things, a “deceptive”, “dishonest”, “slanderer”, who is a purveyor of, “smoke and mirrors”. He’s dedicated several days to attacking Dr. Shabir Ally for apparently “misquoting” Robert Gundry on Matthew 28:19. The irony of all this, is that Sam is quite desperate to one-up a man that he has been obsessing about for the past decade, after a debate in which Dr. Shabir, to put it lightly, “embarrassed Sam”:

As indicated in Dr. Shabir’s responses to Sam, see Part 1 here, see Part 2 here, Sam had to manufacture quotes and lie about what Dr. Shabir said during the debate, to maintain the illusion that Dr. Shabir “misquoted” anyone. Thus, Sam, has shifted the goalposts from first claiming Dr. Shabir misquoted Gundry, to now claiming he “misrepresented Gundry about the Trinity”. These are two different positions, they are not the same. This is typical of the character of Sam, he’s unable to competently understand his opponents, and spends an inordinate amount of time trying to deflect from his stunted intellectual abilities. One might say that I’m exaggerating, but this is not the case. Sam has done the same to Br. Zakir Hussein. Let’s look at Sam’s inability to read. In an article slandering Br. Zakir, Sam accuses him of lying about a quote from a work by Ostrogorsky, by first stating:

Thirdly, Hussein’s assertion concerning what Ostrogorsky says in his book is a boldfaced lie, since there is nothing about a decisive victory taking place in the year 622 on that page. More importantly, this author emphatically says that the Byzantines defeated and vanquished the Persians in 627-628 AD!

Please note that Sam claims to have read the page, and that the author says “nothing about a decisive victory taking place in the year 622 on that page”. He then proceeded to present the following quote from page 101:

Here is the quote:

“The threatening attitude of the Avar Khan made it essential for the Emperor to return to Constantinople. The tribute paid to the Avars was then raised and near relatives of the Emperor were sent to the Khan as hostages, so that Heraclius was able to resume the war with Persia by March 623. In spite of the defeat of the previous year, Chosroes II REFUSED TO CONSIDER A TRUCE, and he sent the Emperor a letter full of the most insulting expressions and blasphemous utterances against the Christian faith.”

Please take note of where Sam begins the quote. Read and re-read that line. Now here’s page 100:


What year is the author speaking of? 622 CE. As the book clearly says, “he left the capital on Easter Monday, 5 April 622.” Now, here’s page 101:


On this page, which is page 101, on lines 11-14, the Ostrogorsky says:

“The two forces met on Armenian soil and the result was a decisive victory of the Byzantines over the great Persian general Sahrbaraz. The first goal was reached: Asia Minor was cleared of the enemy.”

What does this mean? Not only is the quote he claimed on the same page, he has intentionally misquoted the book, by starting his own quotation one line below the relevant quote used by Br. Zakir Hussein! It clearly states that their was indeed a “decisive victory”!

Perhaps though, if Sam had read the very quote he pasted in his article, it speaks about and I quote, “In spite of the defeat of the previous year….”, it really can’t get more obvious than that, does it? The previous year of 623 CE, would be what? (If Sam is reading this, previous means before, so you minus 1 from 623). That would mean 622 CE. What was the defeat in 622 CE? The decisive victory by the Byzantines!

Not only is Sam deceptive for lying about what Dr. Shabir claimed during the debate, and then later shifting the argument to be about a “misrepresentation of Gundry about the Trinity”, when it comes to his own claims, and his own research, Sam is shown to be, in Shamounian terms, quite functionally illiterate.

Sam further alleged in an article, that Dr. Ally needed to be “exposed” and put to shame as a person notorious for “misquoting and mishandling scholars”. Given that Sam has been refuted en toto by Dr. Shabir Ally, and that Sam in this article, has been shown to be notorious of misquoting and mishandling scholars, shouldn’t he then expose and put himself to shame? Perhaps then, this is a case of irony. If Sam spent less time feeding his ego and his stomach, maybe he’d have the cognitive capacity to recognize that attacking people more intelligent than himself is a bad move.

and God knows best.

Jonathan McLatchie: ‘Self-Professed Expert’ on Islam Gets the Basics Wrong

Following in the footsteps of now disgraced pseudo-academic (false credentials regarding the teachings of Islam – Alpha and Omega Ministry), Ergun Caner, Jonathan McLatchie is now advertising himself as an “expert on Islam”. According to an August 2nd post advertising his lecture in which he claimed that “France has a problem with Islam”, and that Islam and Muslims were “tantamount to inviting a virus into your civilization“, Jonathan is described as an “expert on Islam“:


“Expert on Islam”

In a private interview conducted with myself, meant for publication, I decided to ask Jonathan questions about Shari’ah law, given his previous xenophobic comments regarding Muslims and Islam. A portion (in chronological order) is given as follows:


So how did the ‘expert on Islam’ do? Not so well….

According to Ahlus Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah, there are four sources of Islamic law:

  1. Qur’an
  2. Hadith
  3. ‘Ijma
  4. Qiyaas

Shari’ah law, also includes what the English would refer to as “common law” and “civil law” with deep considerations taken of ‘Urf (العرف) – cultural norms and values. Shari’ah law, also includes the corpus of laws a Muslim would adhere to in his daily life: how do I pray, what is the Shari’ah ruling on food cooked in the same pot as pork or ham, what does the Shari’ah say regarding fasting if I’m traveling, etc. So not only does this ‘expert on Islam’, not know the basics, he relegated it only to crime, politics and economics.

It was at this point I realised he did not know what he was talking about and I decided to ask him a very basic question regarding Shari’ah law. Immediately, he renounced his ‘expertise’, despite having advertised himself as such on Christian apologetics websites and on ABN/ Trinity TV’s shows last week. Jonathan was clearly caught off guard and quickly realised he needed to mitigate the situation, thereby relinquishing his claim to be an ‘expert’. This was a live interview, so he had no time to Google the answer, and he was live on Skype with me, I would have noticed if he was trying to Google search the answer to my question. So caught between a rock and a hard place, the ‘expert’ then, ‘not an expert’, who returned to being an ‘expert’ last week did indeed get the question wrong.

The Hadd laws, refer to very specific punishments within the Shari’ah. This would include stoning and cutting of the hands, which do require in and of themselves, very specific evidences for the punishment to be meted out (which is difficult to attain in most cases). These are not Ta’zir laws, which are discretionary judgments by an Islamic judge (qadhi). So the well advertised and self-proclaimed ‘expert’ on Islam needs to publicly correct himself. His rabid tirades against the Islamic Shari’ah, when he clearly does not understand it are very worrisome. He’s arguing and hating against something of which he has no idea about. Clearly then, when confronted with a difficult situation, he quickly discarded his ‘expert’ title and rightfully accepted his position as being theological unqualified about Islam.

I advise Jonathan, to fully discard the title, you sir are not an ‘expert on Islam’.

and God knows best.

Upcoming Debate: Was Jesus the Son of God or Only the Prophet of God? – Dr. Tony Costa and Br. Ijaz

Quick Information:
Topic: Was Jesus the Son of God or Only the Prophet of God?
Debaters: Br. Ijaz Ahmad of Calling Christians/ MDI and Dr. Tony Costa of the Toronto Baptist Seminary.
Date: Friday 9th of October, 2015.
Time: 7 PM EST.
Location: ABN TV, Trinity TV and YouTube.
Moderator: TBA.
Note: Br. Ijaz is not an Imam, the error has been made aware to the channel.
and God knows best.

Upcoming Debate: Is the Muslim Denial of Jesus’s Death by Crucifixion Valid? – Br. Ijaz and Keith of Answering Islam

Quick Information:
Topic: Is the Muslim Denial of Jesus’s Death by Crucifixion Valid?
Debaters: Br. Ijaz Ahmad of Calling Christians and Keith Thompson of Answering Islam.
Date: Saturday 26th of September, 2015.
Time: 10 PM EST.
Location: Paltalk, Answering Christianity Room.
Moderator: Sister Waduha.
A little background on the Christian debater:
keith thompson

Keith Thompson of Answering Islam

Keith Thompson is a Christian apologist who runs Reformed Apologetics Ministries and has been writing for Answering-Islam.org since 2008. He is a debater having debated opponents such as Inamullah Mumtaz, Sami Zaatari, Nadir Ahmed, Peter Dimond and others. He resides in Canada and will be completing his seminary studies shortly.
This will be my (Br. Ijaz’s) third debate for the year, with one final (fourth) debate to be announced shortly. The final debate will be with a well known Christian scholar and will be televised (and is expected to be streamed live). The debate is to be held on Friday October the 9th, 2015 (tentative dating).

If you don’t use Paltalk and would still like to view the debate between Keith and myself, alternative arrangements may be made for a YouTube streaming of the event (tentative), or a recording should be available within a week’s time (on YouTube via Nazam44’s and MuslimByChoice’s channels).
If you or someone you know is interested in debating me, do send a request via our contact us form.

and Allah knows best.

A Response to a Review of a Review

After finding no one from the Christian community willing to perform a review of his debate with Dr. Shabir Ally, Jonathan McLatchie has finally taken the onus upon himself to “review” my review of their debate. It is unfortunate that Jonathan believes that I “misheard” or “misread” him, as this is a common excuse he uses when confronted with any criticism. Last month it was brought to the inter-faith community’s attention that Jonathan had described Muslim communities in France as a virus and a cancer to European society. If one were to compare his “review” of his debate, with the excuses used when confronted with his xenophobic statements, we’d quickly realise that Jonathan is being perpetually misunderstood by everyone. At first he claimed he never made such a statement, everyone had simply lied about him! Then, it was a statement he made, but everyone simply misunderstood him! Then, it was a statement he made, but it was not referring to Muslims but a cultural structure of extremism, everyone simply hadn’t given him enough time to explain himself! Then, he posts a video in which Muslims who practise Islam are compared to ISIS terrorists and we’re not supposed to be offended by that. The 19,000 people who viewed that article and the 3500 people that watched that video, all seem to have “misheard” and “misunderstood” him.

As one Christian apologist put it, “Jonathan is simply oblivious to any form of self criticism”. When I announced news that a Christian had accepted Islam following the debate between Dr. Shabir and Jonathan, Jonathan found it impossible that anyone would disagree with his remarks in that debate, such to the extent their faith would be questioned. I remarked to him at that point, that it doesn’t matter what you think of your own arguments, it is up to the audience to decide that. He disagreed, that just could not be a possibility, his remarks were without fault. Jonathan lives in a world, where everyone who disagrees with him, either perpetually misunderstands him, or they misread him, or they mishear him. It’s almost never the case that he has said something wrong, or that he has made a mistake, and this is exactly what we find in his “review” of my review. What sort of debater, reviews someone’s review? I mean, there’s the occasional post-debate rejoinder, but I’ve never seen anyone who considers themselves to be a professional, review their own debate. That’s what the community does, that’s not what the debaters themselves do. Jonathan though, does not like to be criticized, and so when my review criticized him, he could not contain himself.

Let’s take a brief look at some of his claims. He began with saying:

Ijaz briefly summarises Shabir’s opening statement, curiously omitting any mention of the numerous problems with Shabir’s Biblical argumentation (such as his misuse of Greek grammar in regards to John 1:1).

Yet, this is simply deceitful. I didn’t omit mention of Dr. Shabir’s use of Colwell’s rule, as stated in my review:

At this point, Dr. Shabir began to speak on the language used in regard to Jesus in the Gospel ascribed to John. John 1:1c is problematic as the attribution of total deity to the Word (later identified as Jesus), is uncertain due to Colwell’s rule. Grammarians do dispute about the definiteness of attributing deity to the Word in this verse due to the absence of a defining article which the original author purposely left out, this opened the wording and subsequent understanding of the verse to dispute. If the author wanted to ascribe total deity to the Word, then they would not have intentionally left out the defining article and thus, total deity cannot be ascribed to Jesus the Christ given the author’s grammatical intentions.

Let’s take a look at another one of his criticisms, he says:

The first point to note here is that I never stated that “the Bible is a wholly Trinitarian text”. It is my view that one can demonstrate a multiplicity of divine persons from both the Old and New Testaments, while the doctrine of the Trinity reaches its fullest expression in the New Testament where we read of the incarnation of the Son of God.

Yet, this is exactly what he said, I even quoted him and put the timestamp to the exact moment in the video in which he makes this very statement:

(timestamp in video, he says, “The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is thoroughly Trinitarian.”)

If Jonathan believes that the words “thoroughly” and “wholly”, are different, then he must consult a dictionary. They mean the same thing. He should also note, that in my very review, I quoted him as saying, “thoroughly”, so on that basis, where exactly does he believe this was something he did not say? Strangely enough, he proceeded to argue that Dr. Shabir did not pre-empt his appeal to the Bible (read as “scripture”), but he did. One of Dr. Shabir’s most important points was “the texts of scripture”. So while Jonathan may disagree, it doesn’t make him right, to the contrary it makes him seem desperate to create points of imaginative disagreement. Perhaps, what is most puzzling of all, is Jonathan’s inability to see that he is deluding himself. Take for example this statement:

That’s not quite what I said. My first premise was that, from a Muslim perspective, “If Tawhid is true, it must be consistent with the Qur’an.” My second premise was that Tawhid is not consistent with the Qur’an.

What’s not quite what he said? At this point, he mentions that I presented his premises for this particular argument incorrectly, yet when we read what I wrote, I literally wrote, word for word, the exact same words that he used:

P1 – If Tawhid is true, it must be consistent.
P2 – Tawhid is not consistent.
C  – Therefore Tawhid must not be true.

The exact same words he uses to dispute what I wrote, are the exact same words I wrote. How then, is this “not quite what I said”? If this is not being deceitful, then what is? I find this to be desperation of the grossest order. Jonathan then made, what I consider to be one of the most absurd comments I have ever heard:

Yes, this is a Modus Tollens argument. I don’t know why Ijaz seems to think that the need to demonstrate the truth of the premises in order to support the conclusion is a problem with this manner of argumentation.

I don’t know if he understands how logic works, but one needs to qualify their premises before assuming the conclusion as being true. This is referred to as sequential logic. Your individual premises must be consistent, before your conclusion could be seen as true (or valid). My criticism, was that he did not qualify his premises, thus his conclusion was contrived. I do not understand how he can disagree that he needs to first prove his claims before arriving at a conclusion. This is common sense. He then went on to state:

The only problem is that I did not make this argument in my opening statement at all. I noted that Nabeel had made this argument in his debate with Shabir, and that I was going to be making a different argument instead.

What argument is he referring to? He’s referring to the argument that the Qur’an is the incarnate word of God. Yet, his disagreement here is unfounded and is again, something derived from the depths of his imagination. In my review, I did not claim that he made this argument, I specifically said that he referred to it:

All he did was refer (timestamp in video, he says “Those who saw Shabir’s debate with Nabeel Qureishi would’ve been exposed to the problems with reconciling the eternality of the Qur’an with the doctrine of Tawhid.”) to the argument that Nabeel used regarding the Qur’an being the eternal word of Allah, yet physical and created.

Perhaps he needs to check the definition of the word, “refer”, for this disagreement makes absolutely no sense to a reader with a command of simple vocabulary. Reading comprehension is not difficult and it should not be this difficult for Jonathan. He then spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to validate his bad argument that the Spirit (of God) is the same as Allah. Yet, he does not validate his bad argument, he merely repeats it without meaningfully responding to the criticism leveled against it. As the Qur’anic verse itself mentions, God the one true Creator, sent the Spirit as a messenger to Mary. The Spirit itself cannot create of its own volition, it is an agent of creation, in the same way the Angel of Death is an agent of the opposite of creation, death. According to Jonathan’s logic, if an agent of God does something by God’s will, this means that the agent is itself also divine. If we follow through with this logic, since the Angel of Death takes away life, does this also mean the Angel of Death in Christianity (the archangel in 1 Thess. 4:16) shares in the divinity of God? According to Jonathan it does, and hence his Trinity now includes a 4th person that shares in the divinity of the other three persons.

Interestingly, Jonathan provides a quote from a commentary that doesn’t address this response at all. The commentary does not mention anything about agency of power or authority, and so while I am thankful he has atleast tried to quote something, what he quoted was irrelevant and useless. His argument remains, really bad. As with the other recommendations in this article, I highly encourage him to learn about God’s ontology in Islam and in Christianity. An agent of God has no inherent power or ability, except by the will of God, in which those powers or abilities are temporal, and by such a definition they could never be in and of themselves, “divine” or of a “Godly” nature. Rather agents of God are temporal in their very attributes and as such, cannot and do not share in the divinity of God. Jonathan attempted to say he addressed this argument by presenting a verse which mentions the phrase, “My Spirit”. It was at this point I gave up any hope that Jonathan was being serious and I began to realise that his article was satirical in nature. I mean, it can’t be that he didn’t realise that the Qur’an uses, “Spirit” in different contexts right, and that not every reference to the Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit (Angel Gabriel), right? It can’t be that he merely saw the word “Spirit” and assumed it meant the same thing throughout the entire Qur’an, while being used in different contexts and forms. Yet, this is exactly what he did. I fully believe he searched an English translation for the word “Spirit” and assumed every instance of it referred to the Holy Spirit in Islam. Ergo, not only was his initial argument bad, so was his response and so was his depth of research and understanding of the Qur’an.

Jonathan proceeded to mention that he didn’t think one of his arguments was circular, he says:

There is no way in which the above argument can possibly be construed as circular. The Qur’an makes a prediction about what we should expect to find (namely, that the disciples believed Islamic doctrines such as Tawhid). I then set out to falsify this prediction, in my judgement successfully. Nothing circular about it.


I incorrectly referred to this form of argumentation as circular because I viewed the first premise as entailing itself, “If Tawheed is inconsistent”, which is self-reliant and thus circular. In other words it entailed itself, despite being in the form of modus ponens. After discussing with our resident scholar, I (Br. Ijaz) am indeed wrong. Although the first premise is indeed invalid (it does not logically follow if Tawheed could be inconsistent, that the Trinity is true), and needs to be qualified, the form is valid, but the first premise needs to be proven. So the argument itself is invalid, but the form correct. Apologies to Jonathan for this error.

End of Edit.

He went on to say, concerning the dominance of the companions of Christ:

But the Qur’an does specify that Allah would “place those who follow [Jesus] above those who disbelieve up to the Day of Resurrection.” This strongly suggests a continuity of dominance, right from day one.

Where does it specify what form the dominance would take? It doesn’t. Which is what I mentioned in my review of the debate. Where does it specify in the Qur’an what form the dominance takes? He chose not to answer this question, even though claiming this is what he was doing, rather he chose to mention that some Tafseer commentators agreed with him. Perhaps he should mention that those commentators presuppose that belief, with first believing that Paul’s true teachings, like Christ’s, became corrupted by later Christians. I fully believe he did not do his research on this topic and at this point, he’s repeating himself without addressing my criticisms. Lastly, he said:

Ijaz offered no comment on the third argument I presented in the debate, namely that the Injeel (i.e. the gospel) is Trinitarian and that the Injeel is affirmed by the Qur’an.

I actually did offer a comment on it, from my review, I said:

If we were to identify his main arguments, they would be easily recognizable by anyone who is familiar with Islamic and Christian inter-faith discourse, namely that the Qur’an validates the New Testament, that the disciples believed Jesus was God and that the Bible is historically accurate. He did not present any new arguments, nor any new research, nor did he seek to upgrade any of the arguments he copied from other Christian debaters.

In conclusion, Jonathan’s review of my review, is a bad attempt at trying to defend his poor arguments used in his debate with Dr. Shabir. At the most, he merely repeated himself, and at the worst he claimed he was misheard. Unfortunately for him, I was able to quote him word for word, and cite numerous places from my review in which I did address the concerns outlined in this review of his. All in all, this comes down to a lack of professionalism. If the Christian community is unwilling to do a review of his debate, and he is left to respond personally to everyone who criticizes him, this says a lot about the community’s perception of his role as a Christian apologist.

and God knows best.

Debate Review: What is God Like – Tawhid or Trinity? – Dr. Shabir & Jonathan McLatchie (Part 1)

At the outset, it’s best to say that if you saw Dr. Shabir’s debate with Nabeel on this topic and if you saw Jonathan’s debate with AbdurRaheem Green, also on this topic, then there was no real need for this debate. Most of what each speaker presented was contained within those two previous debates. There were no new arguments from either debater. Although touted as a dialogue, Jonathan’s approach was more debate minded, whereas Dr. Shabir was laid back and more or less relaxed in his use of technical arguments (compared to his demeanor and approach in his debate with Nabeel).

Dr. Shabir’s Introduction

He began by repeating the same three points he articulated in the debate with Nabeel.

  • T – for the text of scripture.
  • H – for history.
  • R – for reason.

Dr. Ally argued that according to the Bible, God declared that He was not a man and that only He should be worshiped. This God whose name we do not know with certainty, but whom we refer to as Yahweh due to combining the consonants of the tetragrammaton with the name of Adonai (Lord), cannot be Jesus as Jesus is a man. To further his point of allowing scripture to interpret scripture, he mentioned that there can only be one Yahweh and according to Isaiah 42, Yahweh sends his servant, this servant is identified as Jesus in Matthew 12. Thus, Jesus cannot be Yahweh as the Bible identifies him as the servant which Yahweh sends. He further argues that according to the Christology of the New Testament, Jesus is an intermediary of God who the Jews came to identify as an agent of creation. The language of the New Testament is also vague regarding Jesus’s station. He is constantly referred to as Lord, which is a term used to describe humans of varying stations. The term Lord in and of itself cannot deify someone.

At this point, Dr. Shabir began to speak on the language used in regard to Jesus in the Gospel ascribed to John. John 1:1c is problematic as the attribution of total deity to the Word (later identified as Jesus), is uncertain due to Colwell’s rule. Grammarians do dispute about the definiteness of attributing deity to the Word in this verse due to the absence of a defining article which the original author purposely left out, this opened the wording and subsequent understanding of the verse to dispute. If the author wanted to ascribe total deity to the Word, then they would not have intentionally left out the defining article and thus, total deity cannot be ascribed to Jesus the Christ given the author’s grammatical intentions. In John 20:17, Jesus allegedly states to Mary Magdelene that he was ascending to “my God” and “your God”, thus denying that he was God himself. We also see where during the time of Paul, he himself was also deified, as within his historical milieu he was considered Zeus and sacrifices were offered to him as attested in Acts 14.

Dr. Shabir focused more on the text of scripture, than the other two points of history and reason. I do believe that he should have reduced the amount of time he spoke on the Bible, as logically, once he established that the scripture was both historically unreliable and not reasonable, he would have negated the authority of the scripture itself. While his three pronged argument of THR is intelligent and concise, I do disagree with the acronym he chose and the order in which he articulated those points. He would have known that Jonathan would have heavily depended upon quoting the Bible as a proof for his beliefs, and I expected that he would have pre-empted this appeal to authority by demonstrating the use of the Bible as an authoritative source as useless. Thus, leaving Jonathan without any credible options of arguing in favour of the Trinity, as he would not have any other arguments in store but for appealing to the Bible. I used this approach myself in my debate with Chessie Edwards, who admitted after the debate that the rug was pulled from under him, and he could not articulate his belief in Jesus as a God, beyond appealing to the Bible.

The reason for doing this, is that once one allows a Christian to appeal to the Bible, the debate becomes focused on interpreting the Bible. Which would mean that the debate would be about whose interpretation was more correct and not many people will be convinced of a Muslim interpreting their scripture for them. I adopted this reasoning from Professor Burton Mack who argued that we should not allow an appeal to the New Testament to count as an authoritative argument. I highly suspect that Dr. Shabir chose to ease the burden of Jonathan, by sticking to basic, common, popular arguments which would be simple. The reason for this is twofold, primarily because he may have felt the debate of the same topic with Nabeel would have been too technical and thus alienated his core audience, and secondly, he may have wanted to take it easy on Jonathan given this was his first stage debate. Dr. Shabir is quite a kind person and he does not argue to win, but more to build relationships and to open the floor to dialogue and understanding. This isn’t a fault, but some may misconstrue his kindness as being lax with missionaries. My only other complaint would be that he did not spend much time speaking on Tawhid, while he did qualify the Trinity as a problematic belief, he did not dedicate enough time to offering the belief of Tawhid as a superior doctrine.

Jonathan’s Introduction

He began by defining what the doctrine of the Trinity was. This is something I strongly agree with, opening a debate by delimiting the scope of the discussion. As a proponent of socratic thinking, this was a pleasant and welcomed feature of his presentation. As previously mentioned, it was expected that Jonathan would base his arguments about the nature of God by mainly appealing to the Bible. He opened by declaring that the Bible was a wholly Trinitarian text (timestamp in video, he says, “The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is thoroughly Trinitarian.”), which unfortunately for him, was pre-empted by Dr. Shabir who demonstrated it was not, thus Jonathan’s first argument was already weakened by Dr. Shabir. Jonathan then presented three other arguments which he felt negated the validity of the doctrine of Tawhid.

  • Tawhid has its own internal problems.
  • The disciples were Trinitarian.
  • The Injeel is Trinitarian.

Of his first argument, he stated:

P1 – If Tawhid is true, it must be consistent.
P2 – Tawhid is not consistent.
C  – Therefore Tawhid must not be true.

Technically, this (form of argument) is referred to as Modus Tollens. The problem here, is that you have to prove the premises before you can qualify and validate your conclusion which is expected to be a tautology. In attempting to do this, Jonathan disappointed me greatly. All he did was refer (timestamp in video, he says “Those who saw Shabir’s debate with Nabeel Qureishi would’ve been exposed to the problems with reconciling the eternality of the Qur’an with the doctrine of Tawhid.”) to the argument that Nabeel used regarding the Qur’an being the eternal word of Allah, yet physical and created. I was disappointed because this is an argument copied from Jay Smith, which Samuel Green tried to use on me in my debate with him, which Nabeel later picked up and tried to use against Dr. Shabir. The problem here is that Dr. Shabir already addressed this argument, and so have I. Jonathan merely repeated Nabeel’s poor argument. He did not try to revamp the argument, he did not add anything to the argument, he did not articulate it differently, he did not try to incorporate Dr. Shabir’s response to Nabeel into the argument. He quite literally just repeated the argument, which was already responded to. Naturally, I would expect, that if he did his homework and decided to use an argument which was already refuted, that he’d adjust the argument in some way. He didn’t do that. He presented nothing new. It was at that point I wondered why he even offered to debate the same topic if he was merely going to repeat the same points from the previous debate of the same topic by offering nothing new.

At this point, he presented another argument, namely that there are other creators other than Allah. He did not seem to understand that what he presented was the fallacy of false equivalency, wherein the Qur’an mentioned numerous times that there were agents of God who had abilities attained by the “leave/ permission of Allah”, which are temporal and not absolute. Logically, this would mean their abilities are not inherent and eternal, but appropriated by God, thus his argument was non-sequitur from the get go. I firmly believe that he did not critically consider this argument beyond a cursory copy and paste from Answering Islam’s website. Ironically, he attempted to present this argument in syllogistic form, but the argument was inherently non-sequitur due to its format including the fallacy of false equivalency. How he did not realise this, was impossible to understand, if he is using logic, he should know what fallacies are and how they inhibit his premises. What’s troubling is that in the same sentence he declares that Allah has no partners, then states in the same breath that the Holy Spirit shares in the divinity of God. That’s a contradiction, so either it is his argument and conclusions were wrong, or he forced a false conclusion which he himself did not notice.

His second argument was that the disciples of Jesus were Trinitarian. Interestingly, I had a debate on this topic earlier in the year and demonstrated that according to the proto-orthodox Christian tradition, the disciples were definitely not Trinitarian. At this point he introduced a very strange argument.

P1 – If the Disciples of Jesus were Trinitarian then the Islamic concept of God is false.
P2 – The Disciples of Christ were Trinitarian.
C   – Therefore the Islamic concept of God is false.

Jonathan cannot make such an argument and believe that he is arguing logically. This is known as the fallacy of circular reasoning. What is worse was his attempt at drawing out the logical routes. He presumed that Dr. Shabir could refute his argument in one of two ways, firstly that the disciples were later misled or secondly, that the disciples were overcome (by other groups). Jonathan posited that the second option was impossible as the Qur’an says they were victors. The problem therein with his reasoning is that the Qur’an does not say in what way they were victors. He assumes that it has to be in the promulgation of their beliefs, which the Qur’an does not state itself. It is alleged that the early Christians were persecuted and the religion did not become “accepted” until Constantine’s conversion. According to Jonathan’s appeal to the Qur’an, he alleged that the Qur’an mentioned the disciples of Christ were victorious. Yet the Church was not accepted or mainstream until 300 years after them, so in what way were the disciples victorious according to his reading of the Qur’an? It would then mean that his interpretation was wrong, given that victory was not achieved as he understood it to be during the time of the disciples and so the victory being referred to here is not what he is asserting. The victory may have very well been that they themselves held on to their true faith despite persecution and in this way they were victorious in the sight of God. I do not believe that Jonathan spent more than a minute thinking of this argument, for if he did so, he’d realise instantly that the disparity between his idea of the normative proto-orthodox Church’s “victory” and that of the disciples exceeded the bounds of the Qur’an’s teaching.

At this point, he began to appeal to the New Testament as a historical witness, but for those of you familiar with Dr. Shabir’s works and my own, we already know that the New Testament en toto is not historically viable nor accurate. I have explicitly explained this in great detail in my debate with Steven on the very topic of the beliefs of the disciples using palaeography, papyrology, form criticism, textual criticism and historical criticism. The following links should be sufficient to refute his appeal to the New Testament as a historical witness, especially in his appeal to the Patristics:

He began to close his argument by referring to hadith criticism’s use of the isnad or chain of transmission. Unfortunately, he merely referred to the use of the chain of transmission by Islamic scholarship, what he utterly failed to do was qualify the authority of these alleged chains of transmission by applying the methods of hadith criticism to the chains themselves. I myself did this in my debate with Steven, in fact this was one of the arguments I researched in great detail and whose historicity the early Church itself disputed. Thus, by both Christian historical traditions and the methodology of hadith criticism, the chains of transmission in regard to John used by Jonathan are known to have been falsified and are historically inaccurate. I do not believe that Jonathan spent more than a few minutes constructing this argument, nor do I believe he consulted any major works of Patristic criticism, especially due to the reason his sole academic source seemed to be Richard Bauckham, whom I also referenced in my debate. I do believe he rushed through this portion of his opening statement, and I do not believe he himself knew in any great detail the methodologies of hadith criticism, and so his appeal to this Christian isnad was mere buzz word dropping.

What can we take away from Jonathan’s presentation? We need to take into consideration that this was his first stage debate and this was a debate with Dr. Shabir of all people. With that in mind, his preparation was not up to standard and he seemed to rely on previously used arguments from Nabeel’s debate and his debate of the same topic with AbdurRaheem Green. If we were to identify his main arguments, they would be easily recognizable by anyone who is familiar with Islamic and Christian inter-faith discourse, namely that the Qur’an validates the New Testament, that the disciples believed Jesus was God and that the Bible is historically accurate. He did not present any new arguments, nor any new research, nor did he seek to upgrade any of the arguments he copied from other Christian debaters. Most of his presentation seemed to comprise of quickly assembled syllogistic arguments that were not critically assessed or put together with much thought and research behind them. He did not seem to put a lot of effort into his opening presentation, it almost seems rushed and half done, with most of his content directly sourced from his debate of the same topic with AbdurRaheem Green. I really wonder if he thought AbdurRaheem Green and Dr. Shabir were on the same level of study about the Christian religion. That is the impression he gave me. I strongly believe that he did not prepare his debate statement with Dr. Shabir’s education in mind.

One major difference between this debate and the one with AbdurRaheem Green was Jonathan’s comfort level. He certainly seemed uneasy and nervous, and at times he just appeared to be uncomfortable with addressing the crowd. His nerves may have gotten the better of him. Most notably, he rushed through his presentation, he spoke quite quickly and I fear that coupled with his accent, most of the audience would not have followed what he said. In contrast, Dr. Shabir almost seemed to be too relaxed and at times engaged with persons in the audience. As a Muslim though, I do not believe that Jonathan stuck to the topic. Although he began with defining the Trinity, he never really explained or spoke about the teachings of the Trinity, how they made sense, what the value of the Trinity was, why God would or could be a Trinity, how the Trinity was superior to Tawhid. Rather, what I got from Jonathan’s presentation is everything but the Trinity itself. His entire focus seemed to be on establishing that the Trinity was historically viable through the teachings of the Qur’an, and in doing so, he never dealt with the Trinity itself. I did not gain any new knowledge about the Trinity, I didn’t hear him speak on the reasoning of why God had to be a Trinity of persons or how it was possible for an immutable and impassible God to become a man and suffer. Jonathan just seemed to miss the mark spectacularly. As a Muslim, Jonathan’s opening simply did not present the Trinity to me and that is perhaps his greatest failure in this debate.

In Part 2, I’ll cover the Rebuttals.

and God knows best.

‘Oldest’ Qur’an fragments found in Birmingham University

According to a just published BBC News article, a recent re-dating of manuscripts of the Mingana collection at the University of Birmingham (UK), has led to another re-dating that places the manuscripts to between 568 CE and 645 CE with a 95% probability:

Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.

The tests, carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, showed that the fragments, written on sheep or goat skin, were among the very oldest surviving texts of the Koran.
These tests provide a range of dates, showing that, with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 and 645.

“They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” said David Thomas, the university’s professor of Christianity and Islam.

“According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Koran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.”

Prof Thomas says the dating of the Birmingham folios would mean it was quite possible that the person who had written them would have been alive at the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

“The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad. He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach. He may have known him personally – and that really is quite a thought to conjure with,” he says.

The collection consists of 9 folios, they are written in Hijazi script and have been carbon and palaeographically dated.

The collection has been split in two collections, now known as Mingana Arabic 1572a and Mingana Arabic 1572b. The collection that this article is about, is Mingana Arabic 1572a. The University has just updated the collection’s codifiction (classification). The “oldest” manuscripts, are 2 leaves (folios, pages) of the original 9 leaf (folio, page) collection. They have been both carbon and palaeographically dated.

The collection was re-dated several months ago to 1st century Hijri, and this is the second re-dating within a year, confirming it’s early dating.

Mingana Collection at Birmingham Uni. - Folio 1

Mingana Collection at Birmingham Uni. – Folio 1

More Information:

  • Mingana Collection (1572) before today’s latest re-dating can be found on Islamic Awareness.
  • Birmingham University’s scans of the Mingana Collection (1572), without updated information on re-dating, can be found here.
  • Birmingham University has updated the codification/ classification of the collection. The collection we are concerned with is now known as Mingana Arabic 1572a, which can be found here, and the other 7 leaves/ pages/ folios of the original 9 leaf/ page/ folio collection is now known as Mingana Arabic 1572b and can be found here.

I’d like to thank Br. Kaleef from Discover the Truth for bringing the BBC article to my attention, may Allah reward him accordingly, Ameen.

Article in Arabic (Br. Ahmed Shaker):

من جديد أخبار المخطوطات القرآنية المبكرة:

أوراق قرآنية مكتوبة بالخط الحجازي من مجموعة ألفونس منجانا بجامعة برمنجهام تم إخضاعها لفحص الكربوني المشع (C14) في أحد معامل جامعة أوكسفورد فكانت النتيجة أنه من المرجح بنسبة 95% أن تكون هذه الأوراق قد نشأت في الفترة ما بين 568م و645م = 56 قبل الهجرة إلى 24 هجرية.

تعليقات (ديفيد توماس) أستاذ المسيحية والإسلام في جامعة برمنجهام:
هذه الأجزاء من القران التي كتبت على هذه الرقائق، يمكن، وبدرجة من الثقة، إعادة تاريخها إلى أقل من عقدين بعد وفاة النبي محمد. إن الشخص الذي كتب هذه الصفحات لابد أنه عرف النبي محمد، وربما رآه واستمع إلى حديثه، وربما كان مقربا منه، وهذا ما يستحضره هذا المخطوط.

إن هذه الصفحات قريبة جدا من القرآن الذي نقرأه اليوم، وهو ما يدعم فكرة أن القرآن لم يعرف إلا تغييرا طفيفا، أو أنه لم يطرأ عليه أي تغيير، ويمكن اعادة تاريخها الى لحظة زمنية قريبة جدا من الزمن الذي يعتقد بنزوله فيه.

and Allah knows best.

Four Free Books by Louay Fatoohi! (Kindle Editions)

Louay Fatoohi is an internationally renowned scholar of religious studies, and he’s just announced that for two days only: Thursday 16th July and Friday 16th July 2015 until Midnight Pacific Standard Time (on the 16th), four of his books are available for free on Amazon Kindle! Amazon Kindle books can be read on smartphones (iOS and Android), tablets (iOS and Android), PC (Windows) and Mac (OS X) computers. Get the Apps for those devices for free here.

The Mystery of Israel in Ancient Egypt: The Exodus in the Qur’an, the Old Testament, Archaeological Finds, and Historical Sources.

The Mystery of the Crucifixion: The Attempt to Kill Jesus in the Qur’an, the New Testament, and Historical Sources.

The Mystery of the Messiah: The Messiahship of Jesus in the Qur’an, New Testament, Old Testament, and Other Sources.

Jihad in the Qur’an (Third Edition): The Truth from the Source.

Pick them up while you can.

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