In April of 2021 I had the pleasure of debating Dr. Michael Brown (Line of Fire) on a new short form debate series for AWKING TV, a Christian streaming channel. The series, That’s Debatable was meant to cater for hot topics in short form debates with a focus on robust rapid fire segments. In total, my episode was the last to debut at #8 and generally holding to the same 25-30 minute format of the show. Br. Zakir Hussain (Muslim Debate Initiative) referred me to the show and after a quick round of emails everything was set up, including a contract which allowed me to distribute a recording of the episode after a sunset period. That clause kicked in to effect last month and it is with that in mind that I’ve released the debate video.
Notably, this is the only episode that was not advertised publicly. Neither Dr. Michael Brown, nor his team promoted this episode. Reviews and reactions have piled in swiftly since the video’s debut a number of days ago and the consensus (both in the comments and otherwise) seems to indicate that the Muslim side presented itself quite brilliantly. It should go without saying that everyone believes they perform better at their own debates, after all, why do this if one weren’t confident in their own ability for the sake of God? Farid Responds has done a fantastic reaction and review of the debate. Personally, I enjoyed the fiery style of this debate and while short, I did not find time to be an issue. I tried my best to respond with references and data which evidenced my claims and with the assistance of EFDawah and Br. Erfan al Farisi, we managed to have the subtitles fully transcribed and burnt-in to the video.
One of the more astounding claims to come out of this debate by Dr. Brown was that Christians possessed 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament within Christianity’s first centuries, to date, that remains to be an unqualified claim. Of peculiar interest are claims from some Christian audience members that the debate must be a deep fake video, Dr. Brown could not have possibly said the things he did, and yet he did. Other Christian audience members have asked if the video was perhaps cut in some way to make Dr. Brown claim awkward things, and yet it was not. The video is available via the streaming service here. As for why some Christian audience members have such disbelief about Dr. Brown’s claims in the debate, I leave that for you, the audience to decide. It should be noted that the video was available to watch freely, behind no paywall as of July 2022, that a paywall has gone up by the Christian streaming service at the same time I’ve freely released the debate is peculiar, but I lay no claim here, it may just be coincidental.
Overall, audiences have reacted very well to the debate, feedback has been heartwarming and all in all, I think it is fair to say that Christian academics are struggling to defend the New Testament’s reliability both textually and historically, as seen in this very debate.
You must have been exposed to debates between Muslims and Christians on the Bible. You turn to YouTube, seeking to understand the relationship between the Bible and the Qur’ān. The results bombard you with so many different videos of different lengths, and you have no idea where to start with.
This is exactly why i3 presents a series of advanced workshops by specialized speakers to give you a head start!
Introducing the first specialty workshop: History of Injeel and the New Testament with IjazTheTrini
The History of the Injeel as revealed by Allāh ﷻ and the history of the New Testament are two hotly debated topics between Muslims and Christians. This bootcamp seeks to establish a basis for understanding what both are within an Islāmic and historical paradigm.
Happening this weekend on December 4-5th, from 12-3PM each day.
A few months ago I had a wonderful debate with Mr. Stephen Atkins of Toronto on the historicity of the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. The results of this discussion have been quite meaningful for me and I want to expand on this some more.
Typically, Muslim and Christian debates on the crucifixion have tended to focus on what the Bible or the Qur’ān say about the event itself. This almost always leads into the question of the Qur’ān denying a fact of history. Rather than repeating a debate that has been done ad nauseum, I wanted to do something a little different. It started with an innocent but yet a very foundational question. What does it mean when something is determined to be historic (this is different to an event being historical)? This question spawned other questions. What is the historical method, what counts as a fact of history, what is the role of evidence in determining something to be historic, etc? Muslim-Christian dialogues on the topic had previously presupposed to some degree that we can take the conclusions of some historians and then argue based on their conclusions. It had occurred to me that after twenty-something years of being told that there were mountains of evidence for the crucifixion that I had not actually seen these mountains at all. I surveyed Christian apologetic works against Islām to compile a list of these evidences. I then surveyed Christian apologetic works in response to mythicists (those who claim that Christ Jesus never existed) and compared the evidences they listed. The result was that the lists generally overlapped but they were quite short, in fact, this result bothered me. I assumed at that point that perhaps there was a flaw in the works I had chosen to survey and so I reached out to several Christian colleagues (many of whom were in academia or seminarians) to assist me with my lists. Most produced shorter lists than what I had produced myself.
Knowing then that my lists were more expansive, I then set out to analyse the provenance, datings, and other relevant information about each evidence listed. Most, if not all were from non-contemporaneous sources that provided less information than the Gospels collectively. Knowing already the historical problems with the Gospels (along with the New Testament in general), alongside the various preservation and textual-critical issues, I eventually concluded that our Christian colleagues had exaggerated their claim and in fact, that the emperor wore no clothes; there were no mountains of evidence. There were also no hills, no slopes, not even a slight incline, but rather a singular mole-hill. The stage was set, now I would proceed to examine the other half of the equation, the historical method itself. Reading book after book on historiography, works on historiographic criteria, and works by Christian historians, I began to feel quite underwhelmed and somewhat disappointed. I had assumed that there was some technical detail that held everything together or that there was something more elaborate and demonstrative other than assumptions that had little to no bases. One of the things which became plainly obvious was that from the secular historians I had read from, while they acknowledged the New Testament in and of itself as a complete work of literature was largely ahistorical in its claims, these same historians had viewed the individual event of the crucifixion as historic. The dichotomy was somewhat astounding. Eventually the overarching reason that this dichotomy existed was down to the view that no one else within the 1st century CE had claimed the crucifixion of Christ Jesus did not happen.
In historiography there are two terms that everyone should become familiar with.
Methodical credulity – where you presuppose that something is true and wait for evidence to the contrary
Methodical skepticism – where you presuppose that something is not true and wait for evidence to the contrary
In the case of the New Testament, academic historians generally apply methodical skepticism but in the case of the crucifixion they applied methodical credulity. What then, explained this dichotomy? It comes down to another facet of historiography known as continuities. See, continuities are generalisations which allow for assumptions of truth (credulity). For example, if I were to make the claim that President Trump owned a smartphone, no one would generally doubt this because in today’s world almost everyone has a smartphone. A historian 200, 300 years from now who examines his presidency, or even his personal life can generally assume that he did own a smartphone because it was common at our present time. It is commonly understood that the Romans regularly crucified Jews at the time of Jesus and so it can be reasonably assumed that because it was so frequent an event, that he was indeed crucified. He just happened to be one of many. Yet, this is just an assumption. For people who aren’t Christians or Muslims, accepting this as a fact bears no consequence on their worldview or their salvation. However, both Muslims and Christians have consequences to bear regarding the crucifixion or the lack of the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. It now becomes more important to have more than mere assumptions based on generalisations and arguments from silence. The stakes are quite literally raised at this point (please forgive the pun).
This is why the debate and the subsequent EFDawah livestreams on this topic became of note.
Rather than arguing based on an assumption, now we were arguing on foundational claims, principles, and evidences. The debate and the streams became somewhat of a testing ground to see just how well prominent debaters, clergymen, and apologists would do in a serious discussion on these matters. The results proved to be quite successful. I’ve had Muslims who have left Islām, return to Islām out of Christianity. Folks who had become agnostic due to this “error in the Qur’ān” returned to Islām. My friends and colleagues have reported using these very arguments successfully in their day to day interfaith conversations. Yet there is perhaps a caveat to all this which most people have yet to recognise. All of my research and all of the arguments which followed from it, have not been made public. In fact, privately with my friends and colleagues, and in a few Masjid lectures I’ve gone into a considerably greater amount of detail. What I’ve presented in the debate itself and in some of the historicity streams are generally the less technical points, summarised arguments, etc. There is so much more to unpack and I hope to do so in a comprehensive, yet brief introductory book on the crucifixion.
While in Speakers Corner about two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to discuss the New Testament (and a few of its variants) along with the historicity of the Crucifixion narrative using my Nestle-Aland 28th Edition Greek New Testament…with a Greek Christian. This proved very opportune, as he could openly correct me had I lied or made a mistake about what the Greek New Testament said! I was excited to be put to the test and suffice it to say, I think the discussion went quite well.
We earlier tried to have the same discussion but an older missionary gentleman was listening in (as others do), and while this was not a problem, the moment I raised a problematic question he reacted in an absurd way that led to the conversation ending. Thankfully my Greek colleague was up for round two, where we summarized the first discussion and had a full length discussion on the above mentioned topics. It’s decidedly worth the watch, many thanks to the EFDawah YouTube channel for recording and uploading the dialogue with excellent quality!
For centuries Muslims have revered Mecca as the site of their holiest shrine, the Kaaba. However, in 1977 John Wansbrough, Patricia Crone and Michael Cook published books arguing for a radically different approach to Islam’s origins. Among other things, these revisionists contended that Mecca was not Islam’s birthplace, which they located somewhere in the Fertile Crescent. Though Crone and Cook later repudiated the theory advanced in their book, Crone at least held fast to the idea that Islam’s origins were likely in the Fertile Crescent, possibly in Nabatea.
Forty years later revisionism is still alive and well. Some scholars still promote the idea that the Kaaba was not originally in Mecca. Some say it was in or near Petra, while others refuse to speculate on the location. Their combined evidence was enough to convince popular historian and documentary filmmaker Tom Holland. Since Muslims everywhere pray facing Mecca, this view means they all naively face the wrong direction.
This short but elucidating paper by a Christian scholar, in refutation of Dan Gibson is quite informative and handy for Muslims engaging with Christians on this topic:
As the fall out from the debate I had with Joseph Jay Smith continues, a peculiar comment was made on my video that simply had to be addressed. The comment you are about to see, exemplifies the type of Christian that is following Joseph Jay Smith.
According to this Christian fellow, Joseph Jay Smith is a Christian, and as a Christian he cannot lie. Which means that whatever Joseph Jay Smith says, will always be true. This is the kind of intellect that Jay’s rhetoric appeals to, one of deifying humans and discarding basic logic altogether. Isn’t this what cults do? You can’t question Jay, whatever he says must be right because he said it.
On Sunday 16th November, two prominent UK Muslim speakers/ debaters, Br. Ayaz and Br. Zakir Hussein both went to Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park (London) to confront Jay Smith. They had decided to challenge him to a debate, the video of that challenge will be uploaded soon. The reason I’m mentioning this, is that while speaking to Smith, they told him that, “Ijaz says hi!“, to which he responded that I was a liar and that he’s preparing a response to my paper.
The problem is, and I hope he realises this soon so that he can stop embarrassing himself – he doesn’t need to prepare a response to me. Following the debate, Smith released an email in which he explains that he’s been studying the topic of Qur’anic manuscripts for sometime, with the dates of January 2014 and March 2014 being mentioned. Given that the debate happened at the end of September, it would then mean that Smith had been preparing for this debate for some 9 months or so.
With 9 months of preparation, research and study, he entered into the debate with what appeared to be a large stack of papers which contained that very research, of which he shared several of them with the audience:
At one point in the debate, he remarked that he’d share his research with the public, and that it was available for anyone to see should they request it. So what does this all mean? Since the day of his debate with Dr. Shabir, he has possessed 9 months of research, collected into that large stack of papers several inches thick on the table beside him. So, the problem is, what does he need to prepare in response to me, if he already has 9 months of research several inches thick already prepared?
Especially when he declared that the research was ready for anyone to see! So what exactly does he need to prepare? Either he did his research over a period of 9 months and had it ready on the day of the debate, or, given the countless errors and lies I found him making during the debate, he really has no research to present for us and is now scrambling to get something done. So Smith, which is it? It’s time for you to clear the air. Either you lied during the debate or you lied after the debate and on Sunday when you made those remarks. Which is it? Can’t get your story straight it seems.
Since you said the research would be shared with anyone who requests it, then I proudly declare that on this day, I request it! Send it over to email@example.com, I’ll be waiting! For everyone else, you can download and view the 53 page paper on Qur’anic manuscripts here.
Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio, now Pope Francesco/ Francis (I) has a significantly worst history than that of the previous ex-Nazi Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict). According to several news reports, he has been a public defender in the Argentinian Dictatorship, aided in the kidnapping of babies, helped pedophile priests skip jail time and was even implicated in the murder of two other Catholic Priests!
Pagina 12 – April 18th, 2010. –“Five new testimonies, offered spontaneously, following the article “Your past is condemned”, confirmed the role of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, in the military government’s crackdown on the ranks of the Catholic Church, including the disappearance of priests . Those speaking are a theologian who for decades taught catechism in schools of the diocese of Morón, former superior of a priestly fraternity (that was decimated by enforced disappearances), a layman of the same fraternity who reported the cases to the Vatican, a priest and a layman abducted and tortured.”
Tiempo Argentino – May 3rd, 2011. – “Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio could be called to testify again in a case involving crimes against humanity, this time before the Federal Court in June, for the systematic plan to steal babies.”
A book documenting the complicity of Cardinal Jordge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) in the crimes of the Argentinian Dictatorial regime is well documented in the book by veteran Argentinian Journalist, Horacio Verbitskys in his book, “The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior”. More to come as the history of the newest leader of 1.2 billion Catholics is examined and critiqued.