As-Salāmu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wabarakathuhu

May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be upon you beautiful people

"Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish." [Qur'an 17:81]

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Good reading for non-muslims

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback) by M.A.Abdel Haleem

This book can easily be obtained from Amazon or any highstreet bookstore. This translation of the Qur'an is by far one of the best. It expresses the meaning of the Qur'an in an eloquent style retaining some of the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic original. The choice of words (as seen by the example above) are based upon a scholarly approach i.e. context, intertextuality, use of classical dictionaries, the Prophetic understanding etc are all taken into account. This translation lets the Qur'an speak for itself and makes the book a pleasure to read. It flows very well and the translation is much closer to the miraculous original - the Qur'anic concepts and ideas penetrate the reader. A must have for all those who want to read the Qur'an in the English language.

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Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings

A non muslim account on the life of Muhammad based on the earliest and original sources. An excellent bias free view of the final Messenger.

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Exploring the Qur'an (Paperback) by Abdul-Raof Hussein

Exploring the Qur’an is a journey into the unfathomable depths of the Qur’an. It investigates the multifaceted Qur’anic discourse and provides an in-depth account of multifarious Qur’anic topics some of which have never been tackled by traditional or modern scholars. Exploring the Qur’an opens new horizons for both Muslim and non- Muslim readers. It attempts to provide an insight into the intricate nature of the Qur’an’s theological and linguistic facets through an interesting contrastive analysis of both Muslim and non-Muslim views. The book provides rigorous academic analysis of the intriguing linguistic, phonetic and rhetorical features of Qur’anic discourse. It also investigates the text linguistic feature of consonance which is the logical sequence and discoursal harmony of Qur’anic statements and chapters. A must read for all those who want to appreciate the Qur'an's inimitable features and it's unique us of the Arabic language.

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The Quran: An Eternal Challenge (Paperback) by M.A. Draz

This is a great book for all those who are interested in the Miraculous nature of the Qur'an. It deals with rational arguments and explains how the Qur'an has a superior litetary style. Although this book only deals with literary aspects of the Qur'an (as opposed to more objective approaches such as its linguistic aspects and the form of its language), it explains the objectivity of the challenge and answers many questions. A must read for all those who wish to appreciate the liteary excellence of the Qur'an.

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Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time (Eminent Lives) by Karen Armstrong

Muhammad was born in 570 CE, and over the following sixty years built a thriving spiritual community, laying the foundations of a religion that changed the course of world history. There is more historical data on his life than on that of the founder of any other major faith, and yet his story is little known.
Karen Armstrong's immaculately researched new biography of Muhammad will enable readers to understand the true origins and spirituality of a faith that is all too often misrepresented as cruel, intolerant, and inherently violent. An acclaimed authority on religious and spiritual issues, Armstrong offers a balanced, in-depth portrait, revealing the man at the heart of Islam by dismantling centuries of misconceptions. Armstrong demonstrates that Muhammad's life—a pivot point in history—has genuine relevance to the global crises we face today.

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Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong

The picture of Islam as a violent, backward, and insular tradition should be laid to rest, says Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of Muhammad and A History of God. Delving deep into Islamic history, Armstrong sketches the arc of a story that begins with the stirring of revelation in an Arab businessman named Muhammad. His concern with the poor who were being left behind in the blush of his society's new prosperity sets the tone for the tale of a culture that values community as a manifestation of God. Muhammad's ideas catch fire, quickly blossoming into a political empire. As the empire expands and the once fractured Arabs subdue and overtake the vast Persian domain, the story of a community becomes a panoramic drama. With great dexterity, Armstrong narrates the Sunni-Shi'ite schism, the rise of Persian influence, the clashes with Western crusaders and Mongolian conquerors, and the spiritual explorations that traced the route to God. Armstrong brings us through the debacle of European colonialism right up to the present day, putting Islamic fundamentalism into context as part of a worldwide phenomenon. Islam: A Short History, like Bruce Lawrence's Shattering the Myth and Mark Huband's Warriors of the Prophet, introduces us to a faith that beckons like a minaret to those who dare to venture beyond the headlines.

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Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong

In a meticulous quest for the historical Muhammad, Armstrong first traces the West's long history of hostility toward Islam, which it has stigmatized as a "religion of the sword." This sympathetic, engrossing biography portrays Muhammad (ca. 570-632) as a passionate, complex, fallible human being--a charismatic leader possessed of political as well as spiritual gifts, and a prophet whose monotheistic vision intuitively answered the deepest longings of his people. Armstrong ( The Gospel According to Woman ) refutes the Western image of Muhammad as an impostor who used religion as a means to power, an attitude encapsulated in a psychotic dream episode in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Denying that Islam preaches total intransigence, she finds in the Prophet's teachings a theology of peace and tolerance. The "holy war" urged by the Koran, in Armstrong's reading, alludes to each Muslim's duty to fight for a just, decent society. She draws significant parallels between the spiritual aspirations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

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The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography by Barnaby Rogerson

'Rogerson can do epic scale, showstopping geography ... three empires contending for influence in Muhammad's Arabia. He makes you smell the frankincense' review by the Evening Standard

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Muhammad (Critical Lives) by Yahiya Emerick

Rather than settling in to the comfortable life of a merchant, Muhammad had a vision of himself bringing the message of the one God to his idolatrous people. Coverage includes: the claim to prophethood--Muhammad's teachings, and his first coverts; the Muslim flight to Medina, Muhammad's battles, and the eventual bloodless Muslim conquest of Mecca; Muhammad's political victory in the Arabian peninsula, and wars with Byzantium and Persia; the death of Muhammad, and the ways in which his message lived beyond him, and Muhammad's place in history--his role in Muslim theology and cosmology, the ways he is viewed in different Muslim sects and regions, and the influence of Muhammad today in Islamic movements, both peaceful and fundamentalist.

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The Qur'an: A Biography (Books That Changed the World) by Bruce Lawrence

Few books in history have been as poorly understood as the Qur’an. Sent down in a series of revelations to the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an is the unmediated word of Allah, a ritual, political, and legal authority, an ethical and spiritual guide, and a literary masterpiece. In this book, one of the launch titles in Atlantic Monthly Press’ “Books That Changed the World” series, the distinguished historian of religion Bruce Lawrence shows precisely how the Qur’an is Islam. He describes the origins of the faith and assesses its tremendous influence on today’s societies and politics. Above all, Lawrence emphasizes that the Qur’an is a sacred book of signs that has no single message. It is a book that demands interpretation and one that can be properly understood only through its history. Bruce Lawrence’s work is a beautifully written and, in these increasingly troubled times, invaluable introduction to and exploration of the core sacred text of Islam.

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Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman (Galaxy Book, 409) by W. Montgomery Watt

Editorial Reviews

"A standard! Highly readable. A great introduction to the man and the movement. Please keep it in print!--Cheryl L. Golden, Newman University

"Good biography of pivotal figure in middle Eastern-- and world--history. Well-written, objective, straight-forward presentation of complex subject."--Dr. Andrew F. Clark, Univ. of North Carolina

"An excellent introduction to Islam. For the last 20 years I have used this text to introduce students to the Muslim tradition."--Harold Kasimow, Grinnell College

"Still a fine and thorough survey of Muhammad's life and times."--Charles A. Kimball, Furman Univ.

"A convincing book: essential reading, not only for the more casual student of Muslim problems, but also, as a kind of illuminating revision of facts and ideas, for the serious student who has read the larger volumes."--Blackfriars

"This book...admirably fulfills its purpose. It is written in a clear and interesting style, and the reader can be assured that it is not only an interesting book to read, but is also based on sound scholarship."--Journal of Semitic Studies

"This is the best, if not the only, introduction to Muhammad."--James Lindsay, University of Dubuque

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Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World, Second Edition by Thomas W. Lippman

Thomas Lippman provides an excellent introduction into the Islamic world. Lippman is neither a historian nor a religious expert, but a journalist. As a journalist, he is able to easily explain Islamic Culture, practices, and history to an audience completely unfamiliar to this subject. Lippman spent a great deal of time in various Islamic countries as a journalist, and gives an easy to understand introduction into various aspects of Islam: (1) Basic Beliefs and Practices, (2) The Prophet Muhammad (3) The Koran, (4) Law and Government in Islamic Countries, (5) The Advance of Islam, (6) Schism and Mysticism, and (7) The Islamic Community Today. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing more about Islamic beliefs and or history

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The Word of Islam by John Alden Williams

This work is destined to be treated as a pioneer and a classic in its field.... It offers a highly readable, lively, and proportionate examination of the Islamic canon and its various internal currents. (American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences )

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Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations by MIchael Sells

Despite the rapid growth of Islam in this country, its precepts and scripture remain inaccessible to many readers. It is difficult, too, that many of its believers assert that the Qur'an cannot be translated. This groundbreaking work by Haverford College professor Sells goes a very long way to bridging the gap that separates the non-Islamic reader from the Qur'an; he translates and extensively annotates a careful selection of the earliest "suras" (revelations), setting them in their cultural context.

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What Islam Did for Us: Understanding Islam's Contribution to Western Civilization by Tim Wallace-Murphy

In these troubled times, when Islam is under seemingly perpetual attack, it is imperative to consider how much the West owes to the religion’s spiritual insights. Bestselling author Tim Wallace-Murphy presents the first major popular book to examine the common roots of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and to reveal Islam’s immense contributions to our society—which included laying the foundations for our systems of education, astronomy, mathematics, and architecture. He also illustrates how the European Western powers helped foment the current crisis in the Middle East, and why we must strive for a just, equitable solution to these problems. Understanding can begin with this compelling acknowledgment of our shared spiritual heritage, including religious tolerance, respect for learning, and the concepts of chivalry and brotherhood.

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Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists by Michael H. Morgan

"Mathematics, astronomy and medicine; those are three of the many disciplines that would not exist in their present form without the contributions of Muslim scholars and thinkers throughout the centuries. We in the West don’t often remember that."—Aaron Schachter, Anchor, BBC "The World"

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Muhammad: The Great General, Warrior and Prophet

Muhammad: The Warrior Prophet

By Richard A. Gabriel

The long shadow of Muhammad stretches across centuries of strife to the present. Today an estimated 1.4 billion Muslims around the globe follow his teachings—the word of God as revealed to Muhammad and set down in the Koran—making Islam the world’s second-largest religion behind Christianity. But despite Muhammad’s remarkable accomplishments, there is no modern account of his life that examines his role as Islam’s first great general and the leader of a successful insurgency. Had Muhammad not succeeded as a commander, however, Islam might have been relegated to a geographic backwater—and the conquest of the Byzantine and Persian empires by Arab armies might never have occurred.

The idea of Muhammad as a military man will be new to many. Yet he was a truly great general. In the space of a single decade he fought eight major battles, led eighteen raids, and planned another thirty-eight military operations where others were in command but operating under his orders and strategic direction. Wounded twice, he also twice experienced having his positions overrun by superior forces before he managed to turn the tables on his enemies and rally his men to victory. More than a great field general and tactician, he was also a military theorist, organizational reformer, strategic thinker, operational-level combat commander, political-military leader, heroic soldier, and revolutionary. The inventor of insurgency warfare and history’s first successful practitioner, Muhammad had no military training before he commanded an army in the field.

Muhammad’s intelligence service eventually rivaled that of Byzantium and Persia, especially when it came to political information. He reportedly spent hours devising tactical and political stratagems, and once remarked that “all war is cunning,” reminding modern analysts of Sun Tzu’s dictum, “all war is deception.” In his thinking and application of force Muhammad was a combination of Karl von Clause¬witz and Niccolo Machiavelli, for he always employed force in the service of political goals. An astute grand strategist, he used non¬mili¬tary methods to strengthen his long-term position, sometimes even at the expense of short-term military considerations.

Muhammad’s belief in Islam and his own role as the “Messenger of God” revolutionized Arabian warfare and resulted in the creation of the ancient world’s first army motivated by a coherent system of ideological belief. The ideology of holy war (jihad) and martyrdom (shahada) for the faith was transmitted to the West during the wars between Muslims and Christians in Spain and France, where it changed traditional Christian pacifistic thinking on war, brought into being a coterie of Christian warrior saints, and provided the Catho¬lic Church with its ideological justification for the Crusades. Ideology—whether religious or secular—has remained a primary component of military ventures ever since.

Muhammad forged the military instrument of the Arab conquests that began within two years of his death by bringing into being a completely new kind of army not seen before in Arabia. He introduced no fewer than eight major military reforms that transformed the armies and conduct of war in Arabia. Just as Philip of Macedon transformed the armies of Greece so his successor, Alexander, could employ them as instruments of conquest and empire, Muhammad transformed the armies of Arabia so his successors could use them to defeat the armies of Persia and Byzantium and establish the heartland of the empire of Islam.

Muhammad was first and foremost a revolutionary, a fiery religious guerrilla leader who created and led the first genuine national insurgency in antiquity that is comprehensible in modern terms. Unlike conventional generals, Muhammad did not seek the defeat of a foreign enemy or invader; rather, he sought to replace the existing Arabian social order with a new one based upon a radically different ideological worldview. To achieve his revolutionary goals Muhammad utilized all the means recognized by modern analysts as characteristic of a successful insurgency in today’s world.

Although Muhammad began his struggle for a new order with a small guerrilla cadre capable of undertaking only limited hit-and-run raids, by the time he was ready to attack Mecca a decade later that small guerrilla force had grown into a large conventional army with integrated cavalry and infantry units capable of conducting large-scale combat operations. It was the first truly national military force in Arab history, and it was this conventional military instrument that Muhammad’s successors used to forge a great empire.

Muhammad’s rise to power was a textbook example of a successful insurgency, in all likelihood the first such example in antiquity. The West has been accustomed to thinking of the Arab conquests that followed Muhammad in purely conventional military terms. But the armies that achieved those conquests did not exist in Arabia before Muhammad. It was Muhammad’s successful unconventional guerrilla operations, his successful insurgency, that brought those armies into existence. The later Arab conquests, as regards both strategic concept and the new armies as in¬struments of military method, were the consequences of Muhammad’s prior military success as the leader of an insurgency.

This aspect of Muhammad’s military life as a guerrilla insurgent is likely to strike the reader as curious. But if the means and methods used by modern military analysts to characterize insurgency warfare are employed as categories of analysis, it is clear that Muhammad’s campaign to spread Islam throughout Arabia fulfilled all of the criteria. One requirement for an insurgency is a determined leader whose followers regard him as special in some way and worthy of their following him. In Muhammad’s case his own charismatic personality was enhanced by his deeply held belief that he was God’s Messenger, and that to follow Muhammad was to obey the dictates of God himself.

Insurgencies also require a messianic ideology, one that espouses a coherent creed or plan to replace the existing social, political, and economic order with a new order that is better, more just, or ordained by history or even by God himself. Mu¬hammad used the new religious creed of Islam to challenge basic traditional Arab social institutions and values as oppressive and unholy and worthy of replacement. To this end he created the ummah, or community of believers, God’s community on earth, to serve as a messianic replacement for the clans and tribes that were the basis of traditional Arab society. One of Mu¬hammad’s most important achievements was the establishment of new social institutions that greatly altered and in some cases completely replaced those of the old Arab social order.

Successful insurgencies also require a disciplined cadre of true believers to do the work of organizing and recruiting new members. Muhammad’s revolutionary cadre consisted of the small group of original converts he attracted in Mecca and took with him to Medina. These were the muhajirun, or emigrants. The first converts among the clans of Medina, the ansar, or helpers, also filled the ranks of the cadre. Within this revolutionary cadre was an inner circle of talented men, some of them later converts. Some, like Abdullah Ibn Ubay and Khalid al-Walid, were experienced field commanders and provided a much-needed source of military expertise. Muhammad’s inner circle advised him and saw to it that his directives were carried out. These advisers held key positions during the Prophet’s lifetime and fought among themselves for power after his death.

Insurgencies require an armed force and the manpower to sustain them. It was from the original small cadre of guerrillas that the larger conventional army could be grown that would ultimately permit the insurgency to engage its enemies in set-piece battles when the time and political conditions were right. Muhammad may have been the first commander in history to understand and implement the doctrine later espoused by General Vo Nguyen Giap of North Vietnam as “people’s war, people’s army.” Muhammad established the belief among his followers that God had commandeered all Muslims’ purposes and property for His efforts and that all Muslims had a responsibility to fight for the faith. Everyone—men, women, and even children—had an obligation for military service in defense of the faith and the ummah that was the community of God’s chosen people on earth. It is essential to understand that the attraction of the Islamic ideology more than anything else produced the manpower that permitted Muhammad’s small revolutionary cadre to evolve into a conventional armed force capable of large-scale engagements.

The rapid growth of Muhammad’s insurgent army is evident from the following figures. At the Battle of Badr (624 ce), Muhammad could only put 314 men in the field. Two years later at Second Badr, 1,500 Muslims took the field. By the 628 battle at Kheibar, the Muslim army had grown to 2,000 combatants. When Muhammad mounted his assault on Mecca (630) he did so with 10,000 men. And at the Battle of Hunayn a few months later the army numbered 12,000 men. Some sources record that Muhammad’s expedition to Tabuk later the same year was composed of 30,000 men and 10,000 cavalry, but this is probably an exaggeration. What is evident from the figures, however, is that his insurgency grew very quickly in terms of its ability to recruit military manpower.

Muhammad’s ability to obtain sufficient weapons and equipment had an important political advantage. Many of the insurgency’s converts came from the poorest elements of the bedouin clans, people too impoverished to afford weapons and armor. By supplying these converts with expensive military equipment, Muhammad immediately raised their status within the clan and guaranteed their loyalty to him, if not always to the creed of Islam. In negotiations with bedouin chiefs he made them gifts of expensive weaponry. Horses and camels were equally important military assets, for without them raids and the conduct of operations over great distances were not possible. Muhammad obtained his animals in much the same manner as he did his weapons and with equal success. At Badr the insurgents had only two horses. Six years later at Hunayn Muhammad’s cavalry squadrons numbered 800 horse and cavalrymen.

An insurgency must be able to sustain the popular base that supports the fighting elements. To accomplish this, Muhammad changed the ancient customs regarding the sharing of booty taken in raids. The chief of an Arab clan or tribe traditionally took one-fourth of the booty for himself. Muhammad decreed that he receive only one-fifth, and even this the chief took not for himself but in the name of the ummah. Under the old ways individuals kept whatever booty they had captured. Muhammad required that all booty be turned in to a common pool where it was shared equally among all combatants who had participated in the raid. Most important, Muhammad established that the first claimants on the booty that had been taken in the name of the ummah were the poor and the widows and orphans of the soldiers killed in battle. He also used the promise of a larger share of booty to strike alliances with bedouin clans, some of whom remained both loyal and pagan to the end, fighting for loot rather than for Islam.

The leader of an insurgency must take great care to guard his authority from challenges, including those that come from within the movement itself. Muhammad had many enemies, and he was always on guard against an attempt upon his life. Like other leaders, Muhammad surrounded himself with a loyal group of followers who acted as his bodyguard and carried out his orders without question. For this purpose he created the suffah, a small cadre of loyal followers who lived in the mosque next to Muhammad’s house recruited from among the most pious, enthusiastic followers. The suffah members spent much of their time studying Islam. They were devoted to Muhammad and served not only as his life guard but also as a secret police that could be called upon at a moment’s notice to carry out whatever task Muhammad set for them.

No insurgency can survive without an effective intelligence apparatus. As early as when Muhammad left Mecca in 622, he left behind a trusted agent, his uncle Abbas, who continued to send him reports on the situation there. Abbas served as an agent-in-place for more than a decade, until Mecca itself fell to Muhammad.

In the beginning Muhammad’s operations suffered from a lack of tactical intelligence. His followers were mostly townspeople with no experience in desert travel. On some of the early operations Muhammad had to hire bedouin guides. As the insurgency grew, however, his intelligence service became more organized and sophisticated, using agents-in-place, commercial spies, debriefing of prisoners, combat patrols, and reconnaissance in force as methods of intelligence collection.

Muhammad himself seems to have possessed a detailed knowledge of clan loyalties and politics within the insurgency’s area of operations and used this knowledge to good effect when negotiating alliances with the bedouins. He often conducted advance reconnaissance of the battlefields upon which he fought. In most cases his intelligence service provided him with sufficient information as to the enemy’s location and intentions in advance of any military engagement. We have no knowledge of exactly how the intelligence service was organized or where it was located. That it was part of the suffah, however, seems a reasonable guess.

Insurgencies succeed or fail to the degree that they are able to win the allegiance of great numbers of uncommitted citizens to support the insurgency’s goals. Muhammad understood the role of propaganda and went to great lengths to make his message public and widely known. In a largely illiterate Arab society, the poet served as the major conveyor of political propaganda. Muhammad hired the best poets money could buy to present his message. He issued proclamations regarding the revelations he received as the Messenger of God, and remained in public view to keep the vision of the new order and the promise of a heavenly paradise constantly before the public. He also sent missionaries to other clans and tribes to instruct the “pagans” in the new faith, sometimes teaching those groups to read and write in the process. Muhammad understood that the conflict was between the existing social order with its manifest injustices and his vision of the future, and he surpassed his adversaries in spreading his vision to win the struggle for the hearts and minds of the Arab population.

Muhammad also managed to bring about a revolution in the way Arabs fought wars, transforming their armies into instruments capable of large-scale combat operations that could achieve strategic objectives instead of only small-scale clan, tribal, or personal objectives. In so doing he created both the means and historical circumstances that transformed the fragmented Arab clans into a national military entity conscious of its own unique identity. As a result, the greatest commanders of the early Arab conquests were developed by Muhammad himself.

Had he not brought about a military revolution in Arab warfare, it is possible that Islam might not have survived in Arabia. Within a year of Muhammad’s death many of the clans that had sworn allegiance to Islam recanted, resulting in the War of the Apostates, or Riddah. The brilliance of Muhammad’s generals and the superior fighting skills of his new army made it possible for Islam to defeat the apostates and force them back into the religious fold. Commanding the Arab armies, those same generals carried out the Arab conquests of Persia and Byzantium. The old Arab way of war would have had no chance of success against the armies of either of those empires.

Muhammad transformed the social composition of Arab armies from a collection of clans, tribes, and blood kin loyal only to themselves into a national army loyal to a national social entity, the ummah. The ummah was not a nation or a state in the modern sense, but a body of religious believers under the unified command and governance of Muhammad. The ummah transcended the clans and tribes and permitted Muhammad to forge a common identity, national in scope, among the Arabs for the first time. It was leadership of this national entity that Muhammad claimed, not of any clan or tribe. Loyalty to the ummah permitted the national army to unify the two traditional combat arms of infantry and cavalry into a genuine combined arms force. Bedouins and town dwellers had historically viewed one another with suspicion. Arab infantry had traditionally been drawn from the people living in the towns, settlements, and oases of Arabia. Arab cavalry was traditionally drawn from bedouin clans, whose nomadic warriors excelled at speedy raids, surprise attacks, and elusive retreats, skills honed to a fine edge over generations of raiding.

These two different types of combatants possessed only limited experience in fighting alongside one another. Bound by clan loyalties and living in settlements, Arab infantry was steadfast and cohesive and could usually be relied upon to hold its ground, especially in the defense. Arab cavalry, on the other hand, was unreliable in a battle against infantry, often breaking off the fight to keep their precious mounts from being hurt or make off with whatever booty they had seized. Bedouin cavalry was, however, proficient at reconnaissance, surprise attack, protecting the flanks, and pursuing ill-disciplined infantry. Muhammad was the first Arab commander to successfully join both combat arms into a national army and use them in concert in battle.

Thanks to the larger religious community of believers, the ummah, he could combine the two primary elements of traditional Arab society, town dwellers and bedouin tribes, into a single Arab national identity. That change was actually preceded by a shift in the social composition of Arab society.

Before Muhammad, Arab military contingents fought under the command of clan or tribal leaders, sometimes assembled in coalition with other clans or tribes. While the authority of these clan chiefs was recognized by their own clan, every chief considered himself the equal of any other, so there was no overall commander whose authority could compel the obedience or tactical direction of the army as a whole. Clan warriors fought for their own interests, often only for loot, and did not feel obligated to pursue the larger objectives of the army as a whole. They often failed to report to the battlefield, arrived late, or simply left the fight once they had captured sufficient loot. Warriors and horses were precious, and clan leaders resisted any higher tactical direction that might place their men and animals in danger. As a result, Arab battles were often little more than brief, disorganized brawls that seldom produced a decisive outcome.

To correct these deficiencies Muhammad established a unified command for his armies centered on himself. Within the ummah there was no distinction between the citizen and the soldier. All members of the community had an obligation to defend the clan and participate in its battles. The community of believers was truly a nation in arms, and all believers followed the commands of Muhammad, God’s Messenger. As commander in chief Muhammad established the principle of unified command by appointing a single commander with overall authority to carry out military operations. Sometimes he also appointed a second-in-command. Muhammad often personally commanded his troops in the field. He also appointed all the other commanders, who operated under his authority. As Muslims, all members of the army were equally bound by the same laws, and all clan members and their chiefs were subject to the same discipline and punishments. When operating with clans whose members were not Muslims, Muhammad always extracted an honor oath from their chiefs to obey his orders during the battle.

The establishment of a unified military command gave Muhammad’s armies greater reliability in planning and in battle. Unified command also permitted a greater degree of coordination among the various combat elements of the army and the use of more sophisticated tactical designs that could be implemented with more certainty, thereby greatly increasing the army’s offensive power.

Traditional Arab warfare emphasized the courageous performance of individual warriors in battle, not the clan’s ability to fight as a unit. The Arab warrior fought for his own honor and social prestige within the kin group, not for the clan per se. One consequence was that Arab armies and the clan units within them did not usually reflect a high degree of combat unit cohesion, the ability of the group to remain intact and fight together under the stress of battle.

Muhammad’s armies, by contrast, were highly cohesive, holding together even when they fought outnumbered or were overrun. The ummah served as a higher locus of the soldier’s loyalty that transcended the clan. Many of Muhammad’s early converts had left their families and clans to follow the Prophet. There were many instances where members of the same clan or even families fought on opposite sides during his early battles. Religion turned out to be a greater source of unit cohesion than blood and clan ties, the obligations of faith replacing and overriding those of tradition and even family. His soldiers cared for each other as brothers, which under the precepts of Islam they were, and quickly gained a reputation for their discipline and ferocity in battle.

Muhammad’s armies demonstrated a higher degree of military motivation than traditional Arab armies. Being a good warrior had always been at the center of Arab values, but Muhammad enhanced the warrior’s status. His soldiers were always guaranteed a share in the booty. It became a common saying among Muslims that “the soldier is not only the noblest and most pleasing profession in the sight of Allah, but also the most profitable.” Muhammad’s soldiers were usually paid better than Persian or Byzantine soldiers.

But better pay was only a small part of the new Islamic warriors’ motivation. One of Muhammad’s most important innovations was convincing his troops that they were doing God’s work on earth. There were of course soldiers of other faiths who fought on religious grounds. But no army before Muhammad’s ever placed religion at the center of military motivation and defined the soldier primarily as an instrument of God’s will on earth. The soldiers of Islam came to see themselves as fighting under God’s instructions. The result, still evident in Islamic societies today, was a soldier who enjoyed much higher social status and respect than soldiers in Western armies.

A central element to an Islamic soldier’s motivation in Muhammad’s day was the idea that death was not something to be feared but rather embraced. Muhammad’s pronouncement that those killed in battle would be welcomed immediately into a paradise of pleasure and eternal life was a powerful inducement to perform well in combat. To die fighting in defense of the faith was to fulfill God’s will and become a martyr. Life itself was subordinate to the needs of the faith. Muslim soldiers killed in battle were accorded the highest respect on the Arab scale of values. While those who died in battle had formerly been celebrated as examples of courage and selflessness, before Muhammad it was never suggested that death was to be welcomed or required to be a good soldier. Muhammad’s teachings changed the traditional Arab view of military sacrifice and produced a far more dedicated soldier than Arab armies had ever witnessed before.

Arab warfare prior to Muhammad’s reforms involved clans and tribes fighting for honor or loot. No commander aimed at the enslavement or extermination of the enemy, nor the occupation of his lands. Arab warfare had been tactical warfare, nothing more. There was no sense of strategic war in which long-term, grand strategic objectives were sought and toward which the tactical application of force was directed. Muhammad was the first to introduce to the Arabs the notion of war for strategic goals. His ultimate goal, the transformation of Arab society through the spread of a new religion, was strategic in concept. Muhammad’s application of force and violence, whether unconventional or conventional, was always directed at this strategic goal. Although he began as the founder of an insurgency, he was always Clausewitzian in his view that the use of force was a tactical means to the achievement of larger strategic objectives. Had Muhammad not introduced this new way of thinking to Arab warfare, the use of later Arab armies to forge a world empire would not only have been impossible, it would have been unthinkable.

Once war was harnessed to strategic objectives, it became possible to expand its application to introduce tactical dimensions that were completely new to Arab warfare. Muhammad attacked tribes, towns, and garrisons before they could form hostile coalitions; he isolated his enemies by severing their economic lifelines and disrupting their lines of communication; he was a master at political negotiation, forming alliances with pagan tribes when it served his interests; and he laid siege to cities and towns and he also introduced the new dimension of psychological warfare to weaken the will of his enemies. Various texts also mention Muhammad’s use of catapults (manjaniq) and movable covered cars (dabbabah) in siege warfare. Most likely these siege devices were acquired in Yemen, where Persian garrisons had been located on and off over the centuries. Muhammad seems to have been the first Arab commander to use them in the north. Where once Arab warfare had been a completely tactical affair, Muhammad’s introduction of strategic war permitted the use of tactics in the proper manner, as a means to greater strategic ends. War, after all, is never an end in itself. It is, as Clausewitz reminds us, always a method, never a goal.

As an orphan, Muhammad had lacked even the most rudimentary military training typically provided by an Arab father. To compensate for this deficiency, he surrounded himself with experienced warriors and constantly sought their advice. In fact, he frequently appointed the best warriors of his former enemies to positions of command once they converted to Islam. He sought good officers wherever he found them, appointing young men to carry out small-scale raids to give them combat experience, and sometimes selecting an officer from a town to command a bedouin raid, to broaden his experience with cavalry. He always chose his military commanders on the basis of their proven experience and ability, never for their asceti¬cism or religious devotion. He was the first to institutionalize military excellence in the development of a professional Arab officer corps. From that corps of trained and experienced field commanders came the generals who commanded the armies of the Arab conquests.

We have little information on how Muhammad trained his soldiers, but it is almost certain he did so. There are clear references to training in swimming, running, and wrestling. The early soldiers of Islam had left their clan and family loyalties behind to join the ummah. Converts had to be socialized to a new basis of military loyalty—the faith—and new military units created with soldiers from many clans. References in various texts suggest that Muhammad trained these units in rank and drill, sometimes personally formed them up and addressed them before a battle, and deployed them to fight in disciplined units, not as individuals as was the common practice. These disciplined units could then be trained to carry out a wider array of tactical designs than had previously been possible. Muhammad’s use of cavalry and archers in concert with his infantry was one result. While Arab fathers continued to train their sons in warfare long after Muhammad’s death, the armies of the Arab conquests and later those of the Arab empire instituted formal military training for recruits.

Muhammad had been an organizer of caravans for twenty-five years before he began his insurgency, and he showed the caravaner’s concern for logistics and planning. His expertise in those areas permitted him to project force and conduct military operations over long distances across inhospitable terrain. During that time he made several trips to the north along the spice road, for example, and gained a reputation for honesty and as an excellent administrator and organizer.

Such expeditions required extensive attention to detail and knowledge of routes, rates of march, distances between stops, water and feeding of animals, location of wells, weather, places of ambush, etc. knowledge that served him well as a military commander. In 630 he led an army of twenty to thirty thousand men (sources disagree on the exact numbers) on a 250-mile march across the desert from Medina to Tabuk lasting eighteen to twenty days during the hottest season of the year. By traditional Arab standards, that trek was nothing short of astounding.

Muhammad’s transformation of Arab warfare was preceded by a revolution in the way Arabs thought about war, what might be called the moral basis of war. The old chivalric code that limited bloodletting was abandoned and replaced with an ethos less conducive to restraint, the blood feud. Extending that ethos beyond the ties of kin and blood to include members of the new community of Muslim believers inevitably made Arab warfare more encompassing than it had ever been.

Within two hundred years after the Muslim conquests of Byzantium and Persia, Muhammad’s reform influence on the conventional Arab armies had disappeared, displaced by the more powerful influence of Byzantine, Persian, and Turkic military practices. Muhammad’s military legacy is most clearly evident in the modern methodology of insurgency and in the powerful idea of jihad. In the years following his death, Islamic scholars developed an account of the Islamic law of war. This body of law, essentially complete by 850, ultimately rests on two foundations: the example and teaching of Muhammad and the word of God as expressed in the Koran. At the heart of the Islamic law of war is the concept of jihad, meaning to endeavor, to strive, to struggle, but in the West commonly understood to mean holy war.

Richard A. Gabriel, a military historian and adjunct professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, has authored forty-one books. His latest is Muhammad: Islam’s First Great General (Oklahoma University Press, 2007).

Islamic view on homosexuality

What does Islam say about homosexuality?

Islam teaches that homosexual acts are sinful and punishable by God. This teaching comes not from human beings, but from the Creator of all humans. God tells us in His own words how He punished the people of Lot for their homosexual behaviour.

The story of prophet Lot, on whom be peace, finds mention in several Qur'anic passages, especially Chapter 26:160-175 which reads:

"The people of Lut rejected the apostles. Behold, their brother Lut said to them: "Will ye not fear (God)? "I am to you an apostle worthy of all trust. "So fear God and obey me. "No reward do I ask of you for it: my reward is only from the lord of the Worlds. "Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, "And leave those whom God has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)!" They said: "If thou desist not, O Lut! thou wilt assuredly be cast out!"

He said: "I do detest your doings." "O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!" So We delivered him and his family,- all Except an old woman who lingered behind. But the rest We destroyed utterly. We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might Most Merciful."

From these passages we learn that God saved Lot and the righteous ones of his family, and rained on the rest a shower of brimstone, so they were utterly destroyed. This is mentioned in the Qur'an not only for the sake of information, but mainly to serve as a warning to anyone who dares to repeat such acts.

Muslims believe that every human action leads to consequences. Good actions entail good results, and evil actions entail evil consequences. Some of these consequences may not become known for many years after a certain action. The consequences of some actions will become manifest only after death when one enters a new, everlasting life.... A common mistake among humans is that if they don't see any negative consequences for their actions they consider it harmless. Human experience has taught us that a source of superior knowledge can be of tremendous benefit to humans.... God, the source of all knowledge, warns us of His punishment if people perpetrate homosexual acts. Let us pay attention and learn the easy way.

Some will say that a person may be born with homosexual tendencies. We say that everyone is a free agent. God lays before us two paths and has given us knowledge of where these paths lead. One is the path to which the devil call us. We must avoid that. One is the path leading to paradise. We must stick to that one. Everyone experiences evil prompting from time to time. We must resist those with all our might. If one feels a tendency to do something that God prohibits, he or she should seek help from a community of loving, caring, believers who would understand his or her difficulty and help him or her overcome it.

A common ploy of the devil is to convince people that they cannot avoid sin. Then they do not even try. But God promises that the devil can have no lasting power over those who sincerely seek God (see Qur'an 15:42)

The Quran forbids any sexual relationship other than in a marriage between a man and a woman. Many homosexual men and women claim that they are born with their sexual preferences and that they have no choice. Although this point is very much in dispute in the medical world, it has no support in the Quran. Even then, irrespective of the nature of homosexuality, this matter would not affect the laws spelled out clearly in the Quran.

We know that this life is a test. Everyone of us has his/her own test. For example someone may be born blind, but that person is expected to live his/her life according to God's law. Others are born poor, short, tall, weak, missing fingers, having big nose...etc but all of them are expected to follow God's law. Some men or women may never marry in their life, or spend part of their life without a spouse.

Some medical circles also argue that it is in the nature of man to cheat on his wife and be promiscuous, again just because someone has certain feelings it doesn’t mean they have to act upon them. Similarly it is even argue some people have a natural propensity to commit crime as it is genetic, again just because we have an inclination does not mean we have to act upon it. As per the Quran they still have to live a chaste life and avoid any sexual contacts outside a marriage. They have to suppress their sexual feelings to follow God's law. It is a major test and not an easy one for many. Only those who submit to God will do everything they can to follow His law. They know that their salvation and eternal happiness rests in doing so.

Since God condemns homosexuality, then we have to believe that a man or a woman with homosexual feelings is expected to behave like any other human being and follows God's laws if he/she truely believes in them. He/she shall resist his/her feelings, maintains abstinence, use all available resources of help including medical, social and behavioral therapies to overcome their behavior and feelings. They should pray to God to help them getting over it and submit to God's law that sees homosexuality as gross sin. Only those who steadfastly persevere in obeying God's law will they pass their test and confirm their submission to God.

For a person who asks, "why me?" We know God is the Most Merciful and Just (16:90) and He will give each one of us a fair test and a fair chance. He assigns the tests to suite each one of us and we believe that He will never burden any soul beyond its means (23:2).

And We have explained to man in this Qur'an every kind of similitude: yet the grater part of men refuse (to receive it) except with ingratitude!- Holy Quran 17:89

We have explained in detail in this Qur'an for the benefit of mankind every kind of similitude: but man is in most things contentious. - Holy Quran 18:54
We have put forth for men in this Qur'an every kind of Parable in order that they may receive admonition. - Holy Quran 39:27

The spouses that God have made from among ourselves are those that aid in producing children. Since the spouses in homosexual relationship would not produce children they are not the spouses God made from among ourselves.

And Allah has made for you mates (and companions) of your own nature. And made for you out of them sons and daughters and grandchildren and provided for you sustenance of the best: will they then believe in vain things and be ungrateful for Allah's favors? - Holy Quran 16:72

The reason for the prohibition can be traced to Islamic view of the perfect society. It is based upon a strong family structure, and without this structure society breaks down. There is no doubt that this act, which goes against the pure human nature created by God, by making men content with men and women with women, destroying families, adversely affecting the birth rate, causing the spread of killer diseases.

This is something which will and does destroy the family structure, but also harms society as a whole. Not in every case, one can say I have a gay friend who is perfectly normal, practices safe sex and would be a great parents. Islam however legislates for society as a whole, it does not have different rules for different people in such situations. It gives a general principle which must be followed in order for society to function in the best way possible. Society cant function with a legal system for case by case situations, thus the law of God is most just as it legislates for all situations in the fairest way possible with the general good of the majority of society being the main aim.

The aim is not to totally eradicate homosexual feelings, and nor to rid the earth of homosexuals as this would be impossible. The aim is to reduce the effect of homosexuality as much as possible on society, and this can be best achieved through Gods law, not through any man made law.

Finally, our bodies are given to us in trust from God. One should not use his or her body contrary to the user guide provided by its Maker. Consenting adults also need God's consent.

Check out the following short video on the issue:

Homosexual related research:

Development of sexual orientation:

Homosexuality in psychiatry:

What constitutes normal?


Diseases related to Homosexuality:

Did Jesus exist?

Regarding the existence of Jesus, i have seen alot of stuff on it inluding the zeitgeist movie which tries to cast doubt. As Muslims, we believe that everything recounted in the noble Quran is true. This means that every historical event narrated in the Quran has really happened, inlcuding Jesus.

Our faith needs no external corroboration from historians or researchers to "prove" the veracity of these narrations. But as we have been blessed with powers of reasoning such as induction and deduction as well as a number of other faculties, we need to use them for the purpose of studying nature and history. The Quran however is our evidence and yardstick

As for the story of Jesus and the New Testament narrations, difficulties of a different nature were encountered. First it was seen that the New Testament documents were arranged to serve a theological purpose, and not according to chronology.

Of the New Testament stories, we are concerned in particular with the Gospels which tell the story of Jesus himself. The first problem with the Gospels was that the earliest of them was written some 60 years after Jesus' disappearance. Secondly, they were the compositions of several persons that significantly differed from one another as to details.

Speaking of the historicity of Jesus, a former evangelical minister called Dan Baker wrote in his book, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist:

"[T]here is not a single contemporary historical mention of Jesus, not by Romans or by Jews, not by believers or by unbelievers, not during his entire lifetime. This does not disprove his existence, but it certainly casts great doubt on the historicity of a man who was supposedly widely known to have made a great impact on the world. Someone should have noticed." (Barker, Dan, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, Madison, Wisconsin: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1992, p. 360)

Prof G.A Wells in his "The Historical Evidence for Jesus" noted:

"The Gospels are widely agreed to have been written between forty and eighty years after his [Jesus'] supposed lifetime by unknown authors who were not personally acquainted with him. And their miracle stories are nearly all couched in general terms, with no indication of time or place or details concerning the person or persons who benefited." (Wells, G.A., The Historical Evidence for Jesus, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1988, p. 206)

It is such studies as referred to above that cast serious doubts on the historicity of Jesus, which led some freethinkers to hold the view that the religion of Christianity built around the crucifixion and resurrection of "the Son of God" was a pure invention of Saul of Tarsus, the self-styled "Apostle to the Gentiles", St Paul.

Historian Will Durant observes:

"Paul created a theology about the man Jesus, a man that he did not even know, 50 or more years after the death of Jesus, with complete disregard and neglect for even the sayings that are attributed to Jesus in the synoptic Gospels. The simple teachings attributed to Jesus become lost in the metaphysical fog of Paul's theology." (Cited in Edelen, William, Toward the Mystery [Boise, Idaho: Josylyn & Morris, Inc.], p. 76)

Ian Wilson in his significant work, "Jesus the Evidence" acknowledges the shortcomings of the gospels as history; but at the same time maintains that Jesus did exist. (Wilson, Ian, Jesus: The Evidence, San Francisco, California: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1984)

Outside the New Testament, we have contemporary evidence for the life of Jesus in the apocryphal writings as well as in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

So the claim that Paul invented Jesus stretches the available historical evidence to the breaking point; while the truth is that Paul has actually subverted Jesus' teachings under pagan influences.

Indeed we have absolutely no teaching of Jesus in the Gospels to prove his divinity or the claim that he came to die on the cross to redeem mankind from a mythical Original Sin.

God in the Quran says what means:

*{He (Jesus) said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet. And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live.

(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable. "So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)" Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.

It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, "Be", and it is. Verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a Way that is straight.}* (Maryam 19:30-36)

There are first and second century writes who wrote about Jesus, including:

• Clement (A.D. c. 30-100) the Bishop of Rome

• The writer of the Epistle of Barnabas (A.D. c. 70-130)

• Polycarp (A.D. 70-155) the Bishop of Smyrna, a student of the Apostle John

• Ignatius (A.D. 35-110) the Bishop of Antioch

• Irenaeus (A.D. 130 -200) the second century Bishop of Lyons

• Tertullian (A.D. 160 -220) the second century apologist

• Clement (A.D. 150 -215) the second century Bishop of Alexandria

• Tacitus in his Annals (c.115 A.D.)

• Flavius Josephus (37-100 A.D.)

• The correspondence between Pliny the younger and the Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 A.D.)

• Gaius Suetonius

• Lucian

• The Didache, a late first century catechism, quotes extensively from the New Testament.

• Ignatius (A.D. 35-110), the Bishop of Antioch, quotes from 16 New Testament books.

• Irenaeus (A.D. 130 -200), the second century Bishop of Lyons, makes 1,819 references to New Testament scriptures.

• Tertullian (A.D. 160 -220) quotes from the New Testament 7,258 times

This is sufficient proof the A man called Jesus existed, however there is no verification on the nature of the man as described by christianity. So the evidence shows that the christian Jesus didnt exist, but a man called Jesus who fits the Islamic description did exist

Its a fact that no one can cannot account for the New Testament being written in the first century if Jesus did not exist. The only real doubt is regarding the existence of the historical Jesus, i.e the one who was crucified, killed, ressurected, the one who was God. This is where the myths from ancient civilisations have interpolated christian teachings. However most historians, even most critics accept that a man called Jesus existed. (Well Esau was his given name in hebrew, Isa in arabic - the greeks latinised it by adding the J and the S at the end hence you have Jesus)

Alot of people raise the question why there is no record of Jesus in Roman records. The answer is that there are no surviving Roman records but only highly parochial Roman historians who had little interest in the comings and goings of minor cults and were far more concerned about Emperors and Kings. Jesus made a very small splash while he was alive and there was no reason for Roman historians to notice him. Because he was seen as a threat and the romans and the jews were embarrassed about the fact that he was causing so much of a rebellion, it is clear they would want to deal with him and remove him from the pages of history - which they tried to do

Once Christianity was established as a major force in the empire then Jesus became rather more interesting and he is mentioned by Tacitus in the early second century

Until Christianity had spread no one except Christians would be interested in Jesus but all later records are ruled out because they are from christian sources. This however is unfair in my opinion as later evidence for a human Jesus is trustworthy and should not simply be ruled out because of the circumstances of the times. As mentioned only the christians would really have been interested in Jesus in a time of such political turmoil in the Roman and jewish world, so it is only natural that most of the documented evidence is recorded by christians, the people most interested and those in closest proximity. It is the same for any historical figure, around 2000+ years ago so i dont think its anything unusual

Ofcourse all the ideas did not come out of thin air so again it is likely a man named Jesus existed, only dispute is regarding his qualities. Sadly the christians have removed alot of credibilty for the existence of Jesus by adopting and adding alot of mythical ideas to his story

It is also important to recognize that in 70 A.D, the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem and most of Israel, slaughtering its inhabitants. Entire cities were literally burned to the ground! We should not be surprised then, if much evidence of Jesus' existence was destroyed. Many of the eye-witnesses of Jesus would have been killed. These facts likely limited the amount of surviving eyewitness testimony of Jesus

Considering the fact that Jesus' ministry was largely confined to a relatively unimportant backwater area in a small corner of the Roman Empire, a surprising amount of information about Jesus can be drawn from historical sources, as i previously posted. We cant forget that this was over 2000 years ago

I think realistically there is too much evidence showing Jesus the man did exist. Only doubts are concerning the characteristics assigned to him and as such doubts are regarding the historical Jesus as described in the Bible. These in my opinion were stolen from ancient myths, namely son of god, crucifiction, death, ressurection, 25th december, easter, christmas etc etc.

Please see my response to the Zeitgeist movie for more details

Islamic response to the Movie Zeitgeist

I watched it last year, thought it was really well made and very persuasive. I personally don’t agree with all of it though. I agree with some parts of the religion bit, I disagree with the 9/11 conspiracy theory but I agree with the federal reserve part. I do personally agree with some parts being plagerised and made part of Christian teachings from ancient ideas and myths. The most notable interpolations I feel are:

• Jesus born on the 25th
• The three kings
• Jesus’ death and crucifixion
• Jesus being the son of god
• Jesus being resurrected
• The cross being stolen from an ancient pagan symbol
• The references to end times and how it corresponds with ancient myths
• Easter
• Christmas
• Holy Communion
• Global flood

A lot of the attacks from the film are on Christian doctrine, which Islam does not subscribe to rather it also challenges these ideas. All the names and qualities ascribed to the historical ‘gods’ again are similar to those ascribed to Jesus in the bible, however they are not found anywhere in the Quran. We feel the reason Islam came was to correct the corruption which occurred within the Christian teachings. This includes some of the details mentioned in the movie, such as the issues already raised above. We feel that these ancient myths were granted place in Christian teachings and as such the religion became far from the true religion of God.

For example the issue of the sun and people in past times believing the sun was the son of God, this was also the belief of the Greeks at the time of the emperor Constantine. This is where we believe the idea of Jesus being the son of god came about, aswell as the trinity which would fall in line with Greek mythological beliefs and thus make mass conversion amongst the Greeks to Christianity an easier process. The same could apply to a lot of the Christian teachings referred to in this film, i.e. references to darkness and light and so on. These are quotes from the bible and as such because they are not found in the Quran, Islam does not subscribe to such ideas.

There are however parts that are the same as in Islamic teachings, and thus there is an allegation that all religions, including Islam is also a victim of the plagiarism from ancient myths. This however is false and I will refute them one by one.

We believe that Jesus did exist; he was born to a virgin named Maryam, in english Mary. His name was esau in hebrew and is Isa in Arabic. The Christians added the J and the S at the end to latinise it and hence you have Jesus. We believe he was not God, but he was a prophet. We believe he was not killed nor crucified and hence he was not resurrected. We also believe that Moses existed, and he was given the Ten Commandments by God. We also believe that Noah existed, and the flood was an event that took place. These are the Islamic beliefs that the film touches on, anything outside what I refute is not an Islamic belief and as such I accept the influence of mythical stories on those issues.

To begin with let’s look at the allegation that Isis was called Mary and that the virgin birth of Jesus is a rip off from Horus. Firstly, there is no evidence which proves Isis was called Mary so I don’t see the link, maybe the film makers just stuck it an and hoped no one would notice that the names are different lol. Secondly, Horus was not born of a virgin birth. There are many tales of his birth found in historical evidence, 3 of which are the following: First that he was given birth by a falcon, and second he was given birth via an egg laid by a goose and thirdly most common that Isis was not a virgin, but the widow of Osiris. Isis practices magic to raise Osiris from the dead so she can bear a son that would avenge his death. Isis then becomes pregnant from the sperm of her deceased husband. Again, no virgin birth occurs:

"[Isis] made to rise up the helpless members [penis] of him whose heart was at rest, she drew from him his essence [sperm], and she made therefrom an heir [Horus]."

This is not a virgin birth. There is also an allegation that the virgin birth idea was ripped off from the birth of Attis also an ancient mythological god from 1200 years BC. This is false because again, Attis’s mother was called nana – not Mary, and the birth of Attis was not a virgin birth or immaculate conception. The birth was a result of the genitals of a demon being cut and thrown away, out of which a very special almond tree grew lol nana took the almond, laid it in her bosom and then she gave birth thus the demon was the father of Attis. Regarding the idea that the virgin birth was ripped off from the story of the ancient Indian mythical character of Krishna from 900 BC, this is also false. Krishna was the 8th son of princess Divaki and her husband Vasudeva as found in the Hindi scriptures in Mahabharata Bk 12, XLVIII. This was not a virgin birth.

Then is the allegation that virgin birth idea was ripped off from the story of Dionysus of Greece from 500 BC, which is also false. History shows that his mother and Zeus had an affair, as a result of which Dionysus was born. This was not a virgin birth. There are also further historical accounts of the birth, namely the following:

Zeus impregnates a mortal woman, Semele, much to the jealously of Hera. Hera convinces Semele to ask Zeus to reveal his glory to her but because no mortal can look upon the gods and live, Semele is instantly incinerated. Zeus then takes the fetal Dionysus and sews him into his own thigh until his birth. Dionysus is the product of Zeus and Persephone. Hera becomes insanely jealous and tries to destroy the infant by sending the Titans to kill him. Zeus comes to the rescue but it's too late- the Titans had eaten everything but Dionysus' heart. Zeus then takes the heart and implants it into the womb of Semele. As we can see, no virgin birth takes place but this is how Dionysus is said to have become a rebirth deity as he is twice born in the womb.

Again it is also claimed that the virgin birth was ripped off from the story of the ancient Persian character of Mithra, this is also false. He was not born of a virgin, but born of a rock as depicted by the ancient Persian artifacts. Regarding this allegation that the virgin birth was also ripped off from Buddha, this is also false. Gautama was born to Suddhodana and his wife of twenty years, Maya.

Regarding the allegation that the idea of Mary was adopted from astrology, it is claimed that the Virgin Mary represents or is literally the constellation Virgo. This is false because in its pagan context the constellation Virgo only means woman, not the Virgin Mary as so explicitly stated. The similarities pointed out in names and more specifically the letter ‘M’ for the supposed virgin mothers (who I have shown were not actually virgin’s lol) are a mere coincidence, and this is not proof of anything. There are more women in mythology who are alleged to be virgins without their name beginning with M then those whose name does begin with M. This is a totally random occurrence, no basis for anything. For example, the resemblance between the names Maya mother of Buddha and Mary are said to hold significance. Though similar in their English translations, their original forms and translations are completely different. Maya, from Sanskrit, means Illusion whereas Mary (Maryam) translates from Hebrew as Bitter

There is also the allegation that the place where Jesus was born, Bethlehem is actually a place in the sky rather then on earth. This is not true as archeological evidence clearly proves the there was a place called Bethlehem that existed. This was as a result by numerous excavations, most notably from the Israel archeological society. Let’s face it, they don’t like Jesus lol so there is no reason for them to lie in this situation.

It also alleges that the story of Moses is a fabrication, with the evidence being the golden bull is Taurus the bull and Moses represents the new age of Aries the ram. Citing references to a random bull, then relating it to a concept which came 4000 years later as evidence that Moses story is derived from that bull is indeed a load of bull lol. This is modern astrology, and would not have been known at the time of Moses, the 12 ages of the zodiac were unknown till the 2nd century. So it is impossible for this story to have been stolen from the astrology being referred to, even though the link between the stories is non existent lol and as such the Jews blowing the rams horn has no significance (altho it is not part of Islamic teachings anyway but I thought I would just add it in)

The point is that they claim the story is stolen from the concept of astrological ages; however it is a fact that this concept came about much later, the age concept did not exist in any shape or form in ancient astrology and thus the story could not have been possibly ripped off from this. Furthermore, the stories they claim that are ripped off have no link whatsoever to the story of Moses. Once again they are just throwing stuff in trying to get away with it lol

Let’s however say for arguments sake that they were aware of the ages at the time of Moses, and there is a similarity between the coming of the age and Moses and the calf. I still do not see anything groundbreaking, and on this basis I see no reason to believe the story of Moses is a lie. This is because the Egyptians have a well known and long history of bull worship and sacred cows. These were said to incarnate the spirit of their gods and their death was followed by a long period of mourning. The artifacts from the era and the main iconography in Egypt also show the people had an affinity with the bull of heaven. Even the physical manifestation of the God Montu was in form of the bull.

This shows that this was a common thing amongst the people of the time, including the children of Israel who had left Egypt and thus them worshipping a calf or a bull would not be something unusual, especially as they were seen to be going astray from the truth path which God had revealed to them by returning to their old disbelieving ways which they had picked up in Egypt. I don’t see enough evidence to convince me that this was an adoption of the change of ages. I mean I accept the video is quite compelling if you watch it at first glance, and it convinces many people like it has done but in the historical context when each issue is broken down a lot of it is just conjecture

There is an allegation that the story of Noah is ripped off from the epic of Gilgamesh from 2600 BC. Fact is there is no evidence that these incidents were separate occurances. Rather both could be descriptions of the same event that occurred, as they would have happened around the same time. The epic of Gilgamesh would be a collection of oral traditions passed down describing the story of Noah but ascribing it to pagan mythical charactars. The flood was most likely a real event in the history of mankind that was passed down through the generations of different cultures. If so, the Gilgamesh account seems to have undergone some rather radical transformations, and thus the biblical and Quranic account would only be confirming what is previously known of the true story. Just to note however, the Quran corrects the biblical assertion that the flood was global as historical and scientific research shows there could not have been a global flood because civilisations flourished at the time of the alleged global flood; the Quran confirms what history and science agree upon, which is that this was a localised flood.

Then there is the allegation that the story of Moses is stolen from the ancient account of Sargon. This is false because the story of Moses was reported and occurred around 1500 BC, however there is no confirmed date as to when the narrative about Sargon was written so there is no way anyone can say the story of Moses was stolen from Sargon. The Neo-Assyrian orthographic forms, idiomatic expressions attested only in a later period, and the mention of cutting roads with bronze or copper picks are some factors that point to the fact that Sargon came after 1500 BC. Brian Lewis who wrote The Sargon Legend (American Schools of Oriental Research, 1978) is one of the best authorities on the history of Sargon, he was of the view that the story was written in the reign of Sargon II, a much later king from 721-705 BC who was possibly a usurper, to legitimate his own rule. This was well after Moses. All the historical evidence shows that It would be more likely that the story of Moses was ripped off by the Sargon narrative. Hence this cannot really be used as an argument.

The letter ‘M’ raises its head again lol it claims now that the idea of Moses being a law giver is ripped off from a number of ancient ‘law’ givers with names all starting with ‘M’. Again, is it just me or is this the most weakest link one can use as evidence – the letter M? How many historical individuals out of the billions of humans that have lived could have the letter M at the start of their name, what the hell how many people do you know who have a name beginning with the letter M? This is no evidence, and further proof is the fact that each name would have a different spelling and meaning in each of the languages of the individual concerned. The M similarity would only exist in some languages, including English. Furthermore they were not all law givers, Minos the son of Zeus and Europa was a cruel tyrant and was given directions to for administration by his father – not by God. Manusmriti is the name of some of the hindu law, rather then the law giver. Even if they were law givers, and they all begin with ‘M’ – is this really proof of anything? Again out of the billions of people who ever lived, 3 individuals who are said to have laid down some rules, which are all very different by the way, in different parts of the world? Could this just not be a unique parallel? I hope it is because I have one of my own. Liverpool champions league final 2005, knocked out 2006, final 2007, knocked out 2008, FINAL 2009?? I really hope so

Regarding the issue of whether Jesus actually existed or not, the movie plays a clever trick as most historians agree that a person fitting his description did exist – yet the movie tries to create the impression that there is no evidence at all which is clearly false. Jewish and Roman historians of the first and second centuries A.D have all recorded his existence. The issue is simply over some of his qualities, and as such Islam does not agree with the historical Jesus being God, crucified, killed and resurrected. These ideas in our eyes have been interpolated into christian teachings, and in that case the movie makes a good case which cant be refuted. We simply believe he was a man, a prophet of God. Everything we believe about him stands as true, as I have proven the movie was false in its assertions.

There is also the allegation that the 10 commandments are stolen from the Egyptian book of the dead. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to make these laws, nor do you need to copy any ancient text. These laws are a law unto themselves, common sense. Thou shall not kill, steal etc etc…It names but a few that match out of hundreds which differ, , which shows a deliberate attempt to mislead. Mosaic law moved beyond the book of the dead, or any of the ancient law codes, because it is grounded in the worship of one God whilst the other laws specifically direct worship to different deities. Similarities are bound to exist in some cases because most ancient civilizations had their own law codes, most with basic principles similar to the commandments. Similarity however is not proof of plagerism.

So in short the Christian representation of Jesus may be a plagerisation of Horus et al, as we feel many of the Christian teachings are external ideas from civilisations gone by that have found their way into Christianity. However, Islam disagrees with all these ancient ideas that have been proven to be plagerised and seemingly adopted by Christianity (as listed previously). Islam represents a different individual, who was not the son of God, who was not born on the 25th, who was not crucified or killed, who was not resurrected. It does not subscribe to the cross, nor the references to end times which copy ancient myths or the references to light and darkness that link the Christian Jesus to Horus the sun God amongst others. Therefore it’s clear Islam, by breaking from the mould and not falling into the trap of following these ancient ideas is not in anyway plagerised from the astronomical or mythological ideas of previous civilisations. Rather we believe it to be the complete and true final revelation from the creator, free from external corruption

If anyone knows anything about Islam, they will know that it is in no shape or form a copy cat from previous sun god astrological myths or religions. This is because the Quran itself openly condemns the worship of sun moon and stars, and actually specifically says that the true God is the unseen supreme creator of all things.

The movie basically in the end condemns all religions as man made control systems. Firstly I am not comfortable with Islam being dismissed on the grounds of a critique of Christian teachings, there is more to religion. Secondly I accept that religion does exist to offer some sort of structure or system to live by. For society to exist there has to be some kind of order and rules to govern it, without this there would be anarchy. It’s just a fact that the movie and I’m guessing you feel that this system is man made.

I however feel it is from the creator, and as such is not false. I feel it has a genuine purpose, rather then the sinister man made religious system proposed by the movie. We feel the only true religion is Islam i.e. peaceful submission to the will of the creator, the religion which the creator has revealed to mankind since the beginning of time. The final installment being the Quran given to Muhammad, to come and correct all the other earlier revelations which had been corrupted by the people, like corruptions shown in the movie. Whilst the religions from previous times gone by may have been correct at that time, with the passage of time they had been changed from the original teachings. As such our yardstick is the Quran, which we feel is the final revelation and perfect representation of the true religion and if Islam should be judged, it should be judged on this basis.

Is science superior to religion?

The topic religion and science is one which has its roots in European history, wherein a conflict developed between the Christian church and scientific enquiry. That conflict has created in the western scientific mind a generally negative attitude towards institutionalised religion.

An attitude which people hold which is a product of this history is that science is based on facts, and religion is based on blind faith. Therefore science is something we can rely on because it has been proven and is based on facts, and religion is something which is in some ways irrational, this is the general view that is prevalent in the world today.

Now this concept, or understanding is a product of history. It is not a view which was always held, these are beliefs are products of certain developments which took place particularly in Europe where modern science as we know it evolved out of.

If we in fact go back to the history and look for the origins of the sciences we so rely on today, you will find that there origins were not so much so in the facts and the rational understanding of these facts that we would be led to believe today.

If we take the general definition of science from the merits student encyclopedia, the simple version, it reads ‘science is the sum of human knowledge of the universe.’ This definition of course includes everything, including religion because religion provides certain knowledge about the universe. As well as what we understand to be science in general, it also includes philosophy. Any field of knowledge which pertains in any way shape or form to the universe will then be classified as science under this general definition.

However the definition goes on to say ‘it deals with facts’ and here is where the scientists says well here is the difference between science and religion and philosophy, science deals with facts whilst everybody else is dealing with ideas which may be a product of human experience or human reflection. However the definition does not stop there, it goes further ‘it deals with facts and with the relationships between them.’

Here we now step into another field, first they said science deals with facts – no problem, science deals with things we observe which are measurable etc. But then it goes on to talk about the relations between them, because its not just the observation of these facts but a relation is developed between them an explanation is given to these facts, these facts are strung together to form some story, some picture which is explained; now comes philosophy.

Because facts by themselves do not tell us anything, it is when you put ideas to the facts and you string them together in a particular form and make relationships between them – only then can facts tell us something.

When you go and make that relationship, and put an idea forward to string the facts together this becomes a reflection of your philosophy. So what this is in fact telling us is that science is based on philosophy.

Religion is based on a philosophy, on an understanding and explanation but it is also is based on certain facts. There are certain facts which it strings together and with a philosophy it produces an understanding of the universe. Science has certain facts which it strings together, maybe even the same facts, and with its understanding and philosophy it gives us another picture of the universe. In this case you have your philosophy and we have ours

What has happened in history in relation to this issue is that Christianity has been the main representative of the religious philosophy but this philosophy and subsequent picture has conflicted with science. Because of this conflict, modern society has looked on religion as being irrational, un-provable and has chosen science as its new religion.

Science has become the religion of the modern man, such as yourself Rick lol it seeks to explain why man exists, how he exists, and where he is heading etc…When you look into the scientists who are delving into the secrets of the universe splitting the sub atomic particles and so on, what are they looking for? They are looking to answer these very questions; they want to discover the building blocks of nature - the origin, to be able to create and to understand ultimately. They believe that by asking the right questions, by doing the right experiments you will ultimately be able to understand everything. Man is in fact the God of this world, and he is capable of not only understanding but creating. This is the philosophy of today.

When we look in the past and the definition of science, we see it comes from the Latin word scientia which means knowledge. When we look in the past to what western science considers to be the origin of science, we see a period of time in around the 7th and 6th century before the time of Christ in Greece, where science or philosophy as it was referred to back then was geared primarily to determine the basic elements of the universe. They were asking the same questions that the scientists of today are asking, but in that time it was considered philosophy but today it is called ‘science’.

In that period, no differentiation was made between science and philosophy. Later science came to be regarded as component part of philosophy, and finally as a set of disciplines all together different from philosophy. So we can clearly see that the concept of science went through a period of evolutionary change, and it is also clear that the same questions asked today were asked by the originators of science in their philosophies of the past. The leading figures according to western science of the time such as Plato and Aristotle, they considered that it was more noble and dignified to seek answers by reasoning rather then experiments. They felt that experimentation is for the ignorant, for those who wanted to go and play with matter etc. Those who were the true scholars and the higher minds they understood things from there reasoning. They looked at the universe around them and using there minds and there logic they were able to draw conclusions, establish principles and laws governing what existed around them.

These were the beginnings of science, the philosophy from that time has not changed much today, although it has been modified however the basis of modern science today is in philosophy. What we find as we went on with the history of science, is that after the time of the Greeks in the early 100 and 200 after Christ, the Roman empire took over. It bought the Greeks under their control and with it took control of the Mediterranean area. The Romans were not as much into reasoning as the Greeks, they were more concerned with administration. Scientific enquiry therefore in this period started to decline, and something happened with the spread of Christianity. We find that around the 4th century around this period, the concept of the trinity was adopted by the holy Roman emperor Constantine and was imposed on the Christian world, as a result of the council of Nicea around 325 AD. Prior to this time the majority of Christians were Unitarians, they believed that God was one not three in one.

What we find is that after this period where the trinity was introduced around the 5th and 6th century AD all the way to the 11th century, we find Europe entering what became to be known as the dark ages in European history. This was the period of time where knowledge reached its lowest ebb, most of the literature the writing the scientific theories of the Greeks were mostly forgotten, bar a few monks on monasteries. It simply existed to serve the purpose of the church as its scholars would take some of the theories which seemed to fit or provided some scope for development of the new Christian philosophy; they had a tight reign on any kind of scientific enquiry. They established what they wanted to be the understanding of the world and they wanted no competition.

During this period, we find Islam was established in the Middle East – the 7th century AD. From there it spread to North Africa, Palestine, Spain and southern Europe. This is a time when sciences flourished; as the sciences of the Greeks were translated into Arabic and Arabic thus became the language of science. These ideas were then developed upon, and Muslim scientists developed science to a very high level establishing universities in Palestine, Baghdad, Spain, and North Africa, Morocco. During this period we also find the crusades beginning, and what happened is that towards the end of this period around the 12th century AD, we see a renaissance beginning in Europe. From European scientists going to Spain, taking information back from Palestine from the crusades we find a revival of knowledge in Europe.

It is during this time that some of the great philosophers and scientists such as Sir Thomas Aquinas and Roger Bacon put developed the theories and concepts that became the basis for modern philosophy and science. However, after an initial spurt we find that the church tried to reign things back in to get things in control. Following the bubonic plagues in Europe, the church gained control over the situation as scientists could not really explain what was happening and people once again began to rely on religion. All people or scientists who were proposing ideas that were contrary to what the church had established back in the dark ages were put under scrutiny, inquisitions were set up and those who were found to have ideas contrary to the church were executed for example one Giordano Bruno, who was executed for heresy in 1600 because he stated the universe was infinite and the earth only a small body in it.

There was also Copernicus who established a sun centered theory about the solar system, whereas prior to him it was held that the earth was the centre of the universe according to the teaching of the Greek philosophers which the church adopted. When Copernicus came to this conclusion based on his observations, he was so afraid for his life he did not publish his theory until the year that he died. Galileo who further worked on this theory was tried by the Church and told not to pursue any more knowledge in this area, but after he persisted he was convicted of preaching false teachings and made to confess the same, and also imprisoned where he eventually died.

However the contact which had been made with the Muslims continued to bear fruits and contributed to the reformation movement in Europe, where we had people like Martin Luther challenged the teachings of Rome and the catholic Christian world, and subsequently formed the protestant movement. We had scientists who took advantage of this period of break up and dissent, and started to delve into issues concerning religion in general. Atheism would therefore also be a theory which was born out of this period. It produced later the Marxist dialectical materialism which is also known as the scientific socialism model, wherein human history is reduced to an economical struggle between the haves and the have nots, and also social systems become an expression of the classes with religion being seen as a tool used by the upper class the maintain the status quo and God as a fictitious friend of the rich who predestined there rule over the poor.

On the other hand you had other bodies of scientists who developed what is known as the Darwinism theory, where human existence is determined to be the result of natural forces, there was no need to go to look into the supernatural to explain mans existence as to why he is here where he is going etc…natural selection or survival of the fittest became the principle which determines mans existence and where he is heading.

When we look into this period, we have some reasons why scientists were led to these conclusions. One of them is fundamentally based in the Trinitarian concept, where in man is required to accept God is one but also three where it is clear that the facts tell us one plus one plus one equals three, but religion is telling us from the 4th century onwards that it equals one in relationship to God. This is something which is inexplicable, and the church called a divine secret, which cannot be understood ever. This therefore goes against the nature in which God created man, to analyse things and to be logical. Scientists were bothered by this because they could not express this or test this it made no sense, even Isaac Newton rejected this theory.

Even today in the world, very few of the worlds scientists disbelieve in God. Only 10 to 15% do not believe in God, but this minority seems to be very vocal.

Anyway the point that I am trying to make is that science and religion can have a relationship, it’s not one or the other. The reasons for science looking down upon religion also has to be looked at; Christianity. Islam we feel poses no anti science agenda, and as such we feel that the two can live in harmony, with science providing the facts, and Islam providing the philosophy.