The Counter Crusade

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Origin of the Bible

bism Allah wabi hamdih,

“Do not argue with the followers of earlier revelation other than in a most kindly manner – except those of them who did wrong and are oppressors – and say ‘we believe in that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to you; for our God and your God is one and the same, and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.’” (29:46)

Now I do plan to criticize certain things in the Bible (i.e the old and the new testaments), but I certainly do not think them to be completely false. As for the four Gospels, all scholars of Christianity will tell you that they are not the origial Gospel of Jesus (pbuh), but were written between one to four centuries after. The oldest surviving Gospels according to them are the Gospel of Thomas and the lost Gospel that they call 'Q'. The Gospel 'Q' is lost, but parts of it were reconstructed from Matthew and Luke because both Matthew and Luke copied the Gospel Q and incorporated it into their Gospels, adding stories around the quotes of Jesus. So I will say that I do not believe in these four gospels as having been originally the words revealed by God to Jesus.

As for the Torah, I do believe that it was revealed by God, but that certain stories were added to it later, and thus it was corrupted and is not anymore the word of God.

But the transgressors changed the word from that which had been given them (2:59)

Among them are unlettered folk who know the Scripture not except from hearsay. They but guess. Therefore woe be unto them who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, "This is from Allah," that they may purchase a small gain therewith (2:78-79).

And so the Torah can still be considered of divine origin, albeit not all of it. God says,

And when there cometh unto them (Jews) a Scripture (the Qur'an) from Allah, confirming that in their possession... (2:89)...

Also, many Jews came to the Prophet Muhammad asking him to settle their disputes since he was the leader of Medina, and so God revealed the following verse to the Prophet:

Why do they ask you to judge among them, when they have the Torah, containing God's law, and they chose to disregard it? They are not believers. We have sent down the Torah, containing guidance and light.... (5:43-44)

Now I once read about the hidden code in the Book 1 of Genesis that was discovered by some rabbis, and the discovery was so strong that it was included in two scientific journals after being peer reviewed ( But since then it has been debunked several times, and the case is pretty much dead. Nevertheless, before having heard of it being debunked, I picked up Genesis to read it, and I was stunned by its beauty. It has a beautiful repitition that reminded me immediately of Surat al Rahman and the last half, or maybe third, of Surat al-Shu'araa. Each of the three has a very different type of repitition, but they're all beautiful. In the case of the Genesis, it goes like this:

5: And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
8 And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
13. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

Now it doesnt sound too beautiful here, because I took away all the parts in between, but if you just read all of Book 1 in Genesis you will be able to appreciate its beauty. I just felt like this was written by He who created the two suras of al-Rahman and al-Shu'araa (and God knows best).

Of course you might be wondering about the authenticity of Genesis more than any other part of the Gospel because it describes the creation of the world in seven days, however you must know that this interpretation is quite wrong, and the Muslim scholars have corrected that false Christian interpretation. First of all, a day with God is not the same as a day for us, because time is relative, and because "day" simply refers to a certain amount of time. Thus God says:

"Verily a day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning (22:47)"

"He regulates the affair from the heaven to the earth; then shall it ascend to Him in a day the measure of which is a thousand years of what you count. (32:5)"

"To Him ascend the angels and the Spirit in a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years. Therefore endure with a goodly patience. (70:4-5).

Thus a day could be like 1000 yrs, 50,000 yrs, or more!

And proof of that is in Genesis itself but it was the Muslim scholars who figured it out:

"...but [the period of creation] was a period of time which cannot be measured by a day and night, for the cause of these periods is the sun with its rising and setting, and both the sun and the moon were created on the fourth day of the week. How is it possible to imagine that these days are like the days of our reckoning! The Qur'an says: 'A day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning' (Koran 22: 47). In another verse God says: 'In a day the measure of whereof is as fifty thousand years' (Koran 70: 4). Thus it is obvious that we cannot estimate that period with our method of reckoning, and that it is unverifiable since the beginning of creation."
- Al-Biruni (973-1048)

Since the sun and the moon were created in the fourth day according the story of Genesis, then the seven "days" of creation obviously do not mean seven days as measured by the people who live on earth, because our days depend on the earth's movement around the sun.

Actually when I started this post I was intending to "prove" that the Torah was originally reavealed by God because of the code mentioned above, and to explain the small errors that were found with the code by the Islamic account of the eventual corruption of the Torah (I read one article reporting the discovery that said certain imperfections or errors existed in the code, but I can't find that article anymore). However now that I have found that the whole thing has been repeatedly disproved, one of the main points of this post has been lost. But it is sufficient for me to say that while I will be criticizing certain things in the Bible, especially things in the old testament (since the new testament is not even originally true), I do believe that the Torah was originally revealed by God and I am not criticizing the whole thing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Inspirations continued...

Regard the Franks!
Behold with what obstinacy they fight for their religion,
while we the Muslims show no enthusiasm for waging holy war.
- Saladin

It might sound strange to you now, but during the crusades the Muslims had no inclination for war. Islam was a civilization flourishing with great sciences and arts, and both Christians and Jews lived among the Muslims and became known for their crafts and their skills. Every emir would have Christians running his administration because they knew many languages, and Jews were famous for the practice of medicine and banking, and as merchants because they had elaborate networks with Jews outside the Muslim world.

One very interesting phenomenon was taking place in Fatimid Egypt. The Fatimids created a caliphate in Egypt to rival the Abbasid Caliphate, but it was rarely the case that the Fatimid Caliph had any real power. In fact even the very creation of the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt came from the encouragement of a Jewish man called Yaqub Ibn Killis. Having been vizier to the last ruler of the Ikhshidid dynasty in Egypt, he knew that Egypt was economically weak and he sought out the Fatimid Caliph in Tunisia and convinced him to move the Caliphate to Egypt. Yaqub rebuilt the whole Egyptian economy and was in charge of all the affairs of goverment, basically ruling the Fatimid Caliphate in the name of the Caliph al-Aziz.

After that, the Fatimid Caliphate in Cairo was governed by several Christian and Jewish viziers who had complete control of every affair of government, because the Caliphs trusted them. One Christian vizier called Bahram became so powerful that he was given not only the title of the vizier and thus overseer of the bureaucracy, but also as the commander-in-chief of the army and thus held the title of The Sword of Islam... Bahram was publically Christian however and invited 20,000 Armenian Christians to come live in Egypt. In this unique case however, Bahram was forced upon the Caliph and the Caliph had no power to remove him, whereas in the other cases the Christian and Jewish viziers ruled by the permission of the Caliphs. In fact, the only time in which Jews and Christians lost their powerful positions in Egypt was in the middle of the reign of the Caliph al-Hakim. Al-Hakim had been very kind to the Christians and Jews in his childhood, but he became very depressed in his middle age and most historians agree that he basically went insane. Even a Christian doctor and historian of the time defended al-Hakim's persecution against the Christians, explaining that he used to be very kind to the Christians and that he was suffering from melancholy and a drieness of the brain. In his later days, al-Hakim reversed his hostility to the Christians and Jews once more, and they once again rose to powerful positions in the Fatimid government (as with the case of Bahram who came after al-Hakim).

Now the Fatimids were attacked by the Crusaders, and they asked for help from Nur ad-Din Zangi, who sent his general Shirkuh accompanied by Shirkuh's young nephew, Saladin. Saladin back then thought that he was being dragged to his death, and was not a man of war. Eventually Saladin would become ruler of Egypt, would officially end the Fatimid Caliphate because it was Shiite, and would then succeed Nur ad-Din and realize Nur ad-Din's dream of uniting Syria. The rest, shall we say, is history.

Now Saladin's generosity to the Crusaders is infamous, and it need not be recounted. What matters here is that the Muslims had been living in harmony with the Christians and Jews, and in the case of Fatimid Egypt, under their power, even though Egypt was a Muslim nation. Let us also recall that Saladin was scared of fighting and wanted nothing to do with it.

"While Saladin was consolidating his power in Syria, he generally left the Crusader kingdom alone, although he was usually victorious whenever he did meet the Crusaders in battle...However, the Crusaders repeatedly provoked him. Raynald of Chatillon, in particular, harassed Muslim trading and pilgrimage routes with a fleet on the Red Sea, a water route that Saladin needed to keep open. Worse, and what made him a legendary monster in the Muslim world, Raynald threatened to attack the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In retaliation, Saladin besieged Kerak, Raynald's fortress.... Then Raynald looted a caravan of pilgrims on the Hajj in 1185, forcing Saladin's response."

Basically, Raynald massacred a caravan of pilgrims, and on another occasion captured another caravan in which Saladin's sister was travelling and it is said that he raped her. I dont want this to go on much longer, but just remember that it was the Muslims who wished to live in peace, and the Christians who were promised Paradise by their Pope for killing the Muslims and capturing Jerusalem. "France, he said, was overcrowded and the land of Canaan was overflowing with milk and honey. "

Of course, not all the crusaders went straight for Jerusalem. Some of them decided to go the opposite direction and commit what some historians call "the first holocaust". "The preaching of the crusade inspired further anti-Semitism. According to some preachers, Jews and Muslims were enemies of Christ, and enemies were to be fought or converted to Christianity."

"Jews were perceived as just as much of an enemy as Muslims: they were thought to be responsible for the crucifixion, and they were more immediately visible than the far-away Muslims. Many people wondered why they should travel thousands of miles to fight non-believers when there were already non-believers closer to home.

The crusaders moved north through the Rhine valley into well-known Jewish communities such as Cologne, and then southward. Jewish communities were given the option of converting to Christianity or be slaughtered. Most would not convert and as news of the mass killings spread many Jewish communities committed mass suicides in horrific scenes. Thousands of Jews were massacred, despite some attempts by local clergy and secular authorities to shelter them. The massacres were justified by the claim that Urban's speech at Clermont promised reward from God for killing non-Christians of any sort, not just Muslims. "

Illustrations of the crusaders massacring the Jews were proudly included in a Bible printed in France in year 1250!

Now this particular post is titled "inspirations", and it was meant to focus more on Saladin's generosity in allowing all the Crusaders who surrendered to live and to take all their possessions with them and escape to other Crusader strongholds. But such information is so easy to find you can do it on your own. So I was inclined more to talk about the Muslim inclination to live in peace with the Jews and Christians, and the Crusader zeal for war (although even that I didnt really get a chance to get into).

We could however reflect on how the Muslims back then, including Saladin, lived by the following principle when war seemed imminent:

"You shall prepare for them all the power you can muster, and all the equipment you can mobilize, that you may frighten the enemies of God, your enemies, as well as others who are not known to you; God knows them. Whatever you spend in the cause of God will be repaid to you generously, without the least injustice.

If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in God. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. (Quran 8:60-61)"

- Imad, Leila S. The Fatimid Vizierate 969-1172. Shwartz, 1990.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Inspirations and the spirit of this blog.

bism Allah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim,

When the first crusade was launched against the Muslims, the Muslim cities were divided up among amirs (army commanders), and princes. The amirs fought against each other as secular rulers, and so when the crusaders came, they were not viewed as Christians or as foreigners and enemies to the Muslims, but only as rival kings. Thus many local rulers allied with the crusaders against other local rulers, while many crusaders also allied with the locals against other crusaders! To them, this was a war of kings, not people of different religions and cultures. One of the first of such rulers to defeat the crusader armies (but was just as willing to conquer the cities of other Muslims), was Imad ud-Din Zangi, founder of the Zangid Dynasty. He was a very proud man - and pride is a sin in Islam- and would not listen to anyone who did not address him with his full title:

"The emir, the general, the great, the just, the aid of God, the triumphant, the unique, the pillar of religion, the cornerstone of Islam, ornament of Islam, protector of God's creatures, associate of the dynasty, auxiliary of doctrine, grandeur of the nation, honour of kings, supporter of sultans, victor over the infidels, rebels, and atheists, commander of the Muslim armies, the victorious king, the king of princes, the sun of the deserving, emir of the two Iraqs and Syria, conqueror of Iran, Bahlawan, Jihan Alp Inassaj Kotlogh Toghrulbeg atabeg Abu Sa'id Zangi Ibn Aq Sunqur, protector of the caliph."

But Allah is he who "produces the living from the dead, and the dead from the living" (Quran 10:31), and from such a heedless ruler he brought a hero to Islam whose life was devoted to God. As soon as Mahmud Zangi succeeded his father, he launched attacks at the crusaders and was determined to unify all of Syria under one Muslim ruler -without shedding any Muslim blood- and to unite the various Muslim forces between the Euphrates and the Nile to make a common front against the crusaders. And thus began the first great counter-crusade.

Mahmud Zangi was aided by God for his piety, and met with astounding success, defeating the Crusaders time and time again. It was only in his time of illness that the crusaders were saved from his victories. Another notable time in which the Crusaders were spared was when he heard of the death of King Baldwin III of Jerusalem, whom Mahmud respected. After King Baldwin III's death, Mahmud Zangi refrained from attacking the crusaders, although they were then especially vulnerable, and said, "We should sympathize with their grief and in pity spare them, because they have lost a prince such as the rest of the world does not possess today.”

Mahmud Zangi became known as Nur ad-Din Zangi (The Light of the Religion), as he is known today. But he himself did not like to call himself by that title, in stark contrast to his father. Before going to battle, one man prayed, "May God grant victory to Nur ad-Din". Mahmud's reply was, "Who is this dog Mahmud that God should grant him victory? May God grant victory to the Muslims!"

Even in the eyes of William of Tyre the son of crusaders and historian of the crusades, Nur ad-Din was “a just prince, valiant and wise, and according to the traditions of his race, a religious man.” Furthermore, Nur ad-Din Zangi was very tolerant of the Christians who lived under his territories and only fought the crusaders. As was said before, he refrained from attacking the vulnerable crusaders in Jerusalem when they lost their King out of respect, in contrast with the actions of the crusader Amalric I who immediately besieged Banias upon learning of the death of its emir and extorted a vast amount of money from his widow.

"Nur ad-Din also constructed universities and mosques in all the cities he controlled. These universities were principally concerned with teaching the Koran and Hadith. Nur ad-Din himself enjoyed to have specialists read to him from the Hadith, and his professors even awarded him a diploma in Hadith narration. He had free hospitals constructed in his cities as well, and built caravanserais on the roads for travellers and pilgrims. He held court several times a week so that people could seek justice from him against his generals, governors, or other employees who had committed some crime. In the Muslim world he remains a legendary figure of military courage, piety, and modesty."

- Maalouf, Amin. The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, 1985

Friday, November 25, 2005

In the name of Allah, al-Rahman, al-Rahim,
I begin this blog, as we must begin every action whether large or small, by thanking Allah for all he has bestowed upon us. So all praise is due to God, Lord of the worlds.

Now here is what this blog is all about:

I see Islam being attacked from all kinds of people, and I see many Muslims trying to defend their religion. I myself used to be one of those people, spending hours attempting to clear the name of Islam on forums against hateful posters, and I got tired of it. I know that Islam is the most perfect religion, brought to us by the most praised prophet, chosen by God from among all mankind: Muhammad, may God's peace and blessings be upon him and his family and companions. And I know that there is nothing to apologize for in Islam, but most people out there are busy apologizing and defending Islam as if the religion itself is in need of defence. As Islam is the most perfect religion, Muslims are the ones who should be taking the offensive, not the defensive. Muslims are supposed to be saying to the rest of the world: Look at our religion and compare it to your religions, values, or beliefs- why are your beliefs not as sublime as ours? We must demand that the rest of the world look at their faults and model themselves after the high standards set by Islam, standards to which there is no equal anywhere.

And this brings us to another problem we face today. Gone are the days when the Muslim scholars studied the holy books of other religions in detail, while there are countless western scholars who have studied the Quran and the Hadith and every branch of Islamic sciences. They know everything there is to know about Islam, and so they have something they can attempt to criticize . But I do not see any Muslim scholars who spend their lives studying every branch of Christian or Jewish theology and law, and that is perhaps excusable as they do not feel the need to. For when one can see the sun, what good is a torch? But there IS a need to look at other scriptures and to understand them well, so that one can compare them to Islam and show those attackers that they are the ones who are supposed to be defending their beliefs.

Now I have no hatred toward anyone, and I certainly do not intend to create hatred between any people. I just do not think it just that the most pure teaching is under attack while all other teachings are ignored as if they are better.I only wish that the whole world may compare their beliefs to what Islam teaches and perhaps learn to improve themselves.

Because of the touchy subject matter that I will be discussing, I must begin this blog with these prayers taught to us by the Prophet Muhammad, who was sent as a mercy to all mankind (Qur'an 21:107),

"In the name of God, I put my trust in God. O God, I seek refuge in Thee lest I stray or be led astray or cause injustice or suffer injustice or do wrong or have wrong done to me!" - Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 2, Number 67b.

And the prayer that the Prophet made everytime he left his house:

"O Allah! I seek refuge in Thee lest I stray or be led astray, or slip or made to slip, or cause injustice, or suffer injustice, or do wrong, or have wrong done to me." (Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 5075).