Factual Persuasion: A Case Study
Here is a typical comment from a religious leader in response to a letter in a paper that was critical of Islam:
- "We find otherwise good people become bigots when they discuss Islam. They judge Islam by its extremists. Unfortunately, Islamophobia is the last remaining acceptable prejudice.
- When they say that Islam abuses women, murders apostates and hates outsiders, they are talking about a counterfeit Islam. We find such hatred amongst both Jews and Christians as well.
- One Muslim writer pointed out that there is enough in the Koran for global holy war. But there is also enough there for people of a peaceful mind-set to discover a path to enlightenment and peace. There is bad material in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament as well. But we can also find sublime uplifting passages.
- Our spiritual work, as brothers of the Abrahamic faith, is to combat ugly anti-Muslim sentiments and make it socially intolerable.
- Signed: Rabbi …"
Let us start with an analysis of content. Here are some major points:
- • There is not one mention of Mohammed or Allah (Koran)
- • Bigots judge Islam by its extremists (what is an extremist? No scale to measure extremism is given)
- • Being critical of Islam is prejudiced
- • Denies that Islam abuses women, murders apostates and hates outsiders
- • What is the basis for determining a counterfeit Islam? (If something is false, how do we determine what is true or false. We must have a standard.)
- • Who is the “one Muslim writer”?
- • There are good verses and bad verses in the Koran, but there is good stuff and bad stuff in the Bible
- • Jews, Christians and Muslims are part of the same Abrahamic faith
- • In the last paragraph we are now hating people (not Islam)
- • People who speak against Islam must be condemned in society
- • Who is this man to make such moral judgments?
There are many points to attack. Here is one reply that tackles most of these points. Notice that even though the writer is a rabbi, it makes no difference; he could be a Christian or any other dhimmi.
First things first. There is not one single fact about Islam in the entire letter. We know this because anything that relates to the doctrine of Islam includes the words Allah or Mohammed. Instead of facts, the writer substitutes his authoritarian reasoning and the opinion of “one Muslim writer”, not Mohammed. He declares from his high moral ground the judgment that anyone who criticizes Islam is a bigot. Why? He decrees it. Evidence? Facts? No need for those when you have the authority to make decrees.
"They are talking about a counterfeit Islam"
He uses the word “counterfeit”. And what is the standard to determine counterfeit from the real deal? Simple, the one and only standard of Islam is the Koran and the Sunna. Let’s use that standard.
"When they say that Islam abuses women"
For those who enjoy fact-based logic: Does Islam abuse women? Let’s start with the Koran:
- "Allah has made men superior to women because men spend their wealth to support them. Therefore, virtuous women are obedient, and they are to guard their unseen parts as Allah has guarded them. As for women whom you fear will rebel, admonish them first, and then send them to a separate bed, and then beat them. But if they are obedient after that, then do nothing further; surely Allah is exalted and great!" [Koran 4:34]
Now let us turn to Mohammed as found in the Hadith (Mohammed’s traditions). Mohammed’s words and actions (Sunna) are half of Islam. If Mohammed did it, then it is not extremist.
- "Mohammed said: A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife." [Abu Dawud 11, 2142]
This hadith equates camels, slaves and women.
- "Mohammed said: If one of you marries a woman or buys a slave, he should say: “O Allah, I ask You for the good in her, and in the disposition You have given her; I take refuge in You from the evil in her, and in the disposition You have given her.” When he buys a camel, he should take hold of the top of its hump and say the same kind of thing." [Abu Dawud 11, 2155]
Here is more advice about slaves and women:
- "The Prophet said, “None of you should flog his wife as he fl ogs a slave and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day.”" [Bukhari 7,62,132]
A statistical summary is revealing. Below is a table that summarizes all of the hadiths about women that can be found in the Hadith by Bukhari. Each hadith was judged as to whether the woman was superior to men, equal to men or inferior. All of the superior hadiths were about women as mothers. The equality sentences were about being judged equally on Judgment Day. And what is one of the things a woman is judged on? How well she pleased her husband. The conclusion is that Islamic doctrine debases women.
|Number of verses and hadiths||7||8||157||47|
|% based on superior and inferior||4%||5%||91%||Not included in calculations|
Does Islam murder apostates (those who leave Islam)? Let us look at what the Sunna of Mohammed says:
- "[…] This news reached Allah’s Apostle , so he sent (men) to follow their traces and they were captured and brought (to the Prophet). He then ordered to cut their hands and feet, and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, and then he threw them in the sun till they died.” I said, “What can be worse than what those people did? They deserted Islam, committed murder and theft.”" [Bukhari 9, 83, 37]
- "[…] I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”" [Bukhari 9, 84, 57]
- "[…] Behold: There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu’adh asked, “Who is this (man)?” Abu Muisa said, “He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism.” Then Abu Muisa requested Mu’adh to sit down but Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice. Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed. […]" [Bukhari 9, 84, 58]
It is Sunna to kill apostates, so Islamic doctrine says to kill apostates. As an aside, when Mohammed died, the next caliph, Abu Bakr, killed apostates for two years because many Muslims wanted to quit. Abu Bakr persuaded the survivors to be contented Muslims.
Does Islam hate outsiders? Let us turn to the Koran and consider a word introduced and defined by the Koran. The word is Kafir (unbeliever), the ultimate outsider. More that half of the Koran is about Kafirs. The only good verses about Kafirs are abrogated later in the Koran. Allah hates Kafirs and plots against them.
- "They who dispute the signs of Allah [Kafirs] without authority having reached them are greatly hated by Allah and the believers. So Allah seals up every arrogant, disdainful heart." [Koran 40:35]
- "They plot and scheme against you [Mohammed], and I plot and scheme against them. Therefore, deal calmly with the Kafirs and leave them alone for a while." [Koran 86:15]
Kafirs can be tortured, mocked, robbed, enslaved and raped. The Kafir argument may be carried further with more details. Make a list of what Mohammed did to all of his Kafir neighbors. In every case he attacked them when they would not submit to his demands.
The rabbi grapples with the duality of the Koran in his paragraph about the good and the bad in the Koran. He makes the usual argument: “it all depends on the interpretation.” This drive for interpretation is an attempt to eliminate the contradictory nature of the Koran. The Koran is filled with contradictions at all levels, and this was pointed out to Mohammed by the Meccans of his day. The Koran uses the principle of abrogation to resolve these contradictions. The later verse is better than the earlier verse.
But since everything in the Koran is the exact word of Allah and Allah is perfect and cannot lie, then every verse of the Koran is true, even if it is contradictory. This violates our logic so we try to decide which side is the truth. But both sides are true in dualistic logic. The Koran is a dualistic document and Islam is a dualistic ideology. The answer to the question: “which side is it?” is always all of the above. That is the genius of Islam—it can have it both ways, and this confuses the Kafirs.
"As brothers of the Abrahamic faith"
Now to the idea of: “brothers in the Abrahamic faith.” Let us look to Mohammed for the relationship between Muslims and their Jewish brothers. At first, Mohammed proved his validity by the fact that his angel was Gabriel, the angel of the prophets of the Jews. Therefore, he was of the same prophetic linage. Since there were no Jews in Mecca to deny him, the idea worked.
When he went to Medina, which was half Jewish, the rabbis told him he was no prophet in the lineage of the Jews. No one could contradict Mohammed and as a result, three years later, there was not a single Jew left in Medina. They were annihilated. Then he attacked the Jews of Khaybar and made them dhimmis after he had killed, tortured, raped and robbed them. On his deathbed he condemned the Jews and Christians to be banished from Arabia.
That is the Sunna. That is Islam. And that is the way Islam has treated the Jews and Christians ever since—as dhimmis. Dhimmis are Kafirs who serve Islam by submitting and laboring for Islam. If the dhimmi is subservient enough, Islam will be kind. There are no brothers of Abraham; just dhimmis to Mohammed. The root of the Israel problem is that Israel refuses to act like dhimmis.
This argument about the falseness of the Abrahamic brotherhood of Jews, Christians and Muslims is attacked by the Sunna. Another attack is to point out that a Jew or Christian is not a “real” Jew or Christian until they meet Islam’s criteria. Jews must admit that the Torah is corrupt and all of the stories about Moses, David, Noah and the rest are wrong. Then Jews must accept Mohammed as the last of the Jewish prophets. Christians must deny the divinity of Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection. Christians must also admit that the Gospels are wrong and that Mohammed is the final prophet to the Christians.
Here is the place to make the argument that in fact, the rabbi and the person who he claims is a bigot have something in common. They are both Kafirs. Of course, the rabbi is a dhimmi as well, but notice that the word is never applied to him directly. Be careful to avoid name calling, even dhimmi. Be that as it may, both are Kafirs and are not Muslims. This has consequences. If there is any brotherhood to be had, it is between Kafirs, not between Jews (or Christians) and Muslims.
We need to address one last bit of sophistry. The writer subtly shifts the argument about Islam to Muslims. Muslims are people and as such vary. There are 1.5 billion varieties of Muslims, but only one source of Islam. We need to stick to the study of Islam and leave Muslims out of it.
Making it socially intolerable to criticize Islam is pure social tyranny. He rejects critical thought and calls on the authorities of a fascist state to suppress ideas he does not like. Who is the true bigot?
It would seem that before a spiritual leader takes on the task of calling those who use critical thought bigots, his better task would be to seek the truth of Islamic ideology. The truth of Islam is found in the Koran, the Sunna (Sira and Hadith) and Islam’s political history. As a spiritual leader, once you have mastered those texts, then speak to the issue. Until then, he should play the role of the student and stop referring to those with knowledge as bigots.
There is really only one way to learn how to use fact-based persuasion— practice. Remember, you don’t need to know more than any expert you can imagine, but more that the person you are trying to persuade. Since almost no one knows any facts, only opinions taken from the media, persuasion is much easier than you might imagine. You are not trying to change anyone’s political party or how they vote, but for them to learn the truth about Islamic doctrine. If you know the facts, the way forward is easy.