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A reply to Bos

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God? - Continued
in response to reader comment: a counter suggestion: take yourself less seriously and choose your battles more rationally

Submitted by zzazzeefrazzee (United States), Apr 5, 2008 at 18:59


1) Don't give yourself too much credit, as you certainly didn't irritate me nearly as much as other posters who insinuated that Arabic speaking Christians were blaspheming when they use refer to God as "Allah". that was very irritating to me for many reasons,a nd you admittedly received some of that due your chosen words and timing.

2) In all honesty, the tone of your post really seemed neither friendly or framed in terms of an honest debate- you chose to chime in on Jennifer's post in which I rightly pointed out that the the words "only guaranteed" were not in the Ayah that she referred to. Calling me "pedantic" and "obfuscatory" count as very much as ad hominems, not cogent debate. Given the choice of words and timing, I readily wonder as to what prompted your jumping in; it seemed only to support Jennifer's contention that Allah could not be the same God as the OT and NT.

3) While you may maintain your position that martyrdom is the "only guaranteed route" to Paradise, you really haven't argued it very successfully. Furthermore, my reference to a widely accepted hadith controverting your position, as well as the fact that the verse in question does not mention this either, stands unchallenged. While this may be your position- have you discussed this with actual Muslims, much less anyone who is knowledgeable in hadith? As to your statement that the concept of non-violent Jihad only originated much later, you shirked away from supporting your own argument. Suffice it to say that it was very weak on your part to bring it up if you weren't prepared to back up your claim.

4) In no way was I trying to discourage the debate- but only to engage in cogent, congenial, and above all, informed discourse. The tone of your first post did far more to sabotage the exchange than anything that I posted. Telling you to get an education is not asking you to trawl dusty bookshelves. It is a word of caution that dabbling in these matters is hardly sufficient to reach the conclusions that you have abjectly arrived at; perhaps it would be prudent for your to spend more time verifying the information you cite, rather than decide that you need to spend it "testing" me on my level of knowledge. Given some of the references you've posted, I would say it makes little difference if you are disappointed with me, when your willingness to post overly essentialized hasty generalizations, your jumping to conclusions, much less employment of logical fallacies is far more glaring.

5) Regarding the "wall toppling" punishment. First, if you check, this was not a punishment for adultery, but for sodomy (adultery is almost routinely stoning, much as in the OT). Second, the source for this specific punishment is unclear, as is just who exactly instituted it in Afghanistan when it was ruled by the Taliban. While it can be identified in news reports, the specific source is never mentioned. It is certainly not universally accepted in all of Islam.

Third, my main point in my response is that the notion that it would constitute death by natural disaster is preposterous, and really had nothing to do with the hadith that I quoted. As a result, your mention of it seemed in all honesty as nothing more than an equivocation or false analogy on your part. Rather than berate you for stooping to such a logical fallacy, I instead referred you to Occam's razor (a term which I very much expected you to know). Of course the fact that this entire line of discussion is very far removed from the topic of this board (Is Allah "God") should not go unnoticed. It does make one wonder precisely what your motivations are for bringing it up to begin with.

6) Regarding the notion of intercession by martyrs, my reply was simply to get you to clarify what you were referring to, as I do in fact know a bit about this topic. As it stands, you replied with an excellent article by Rabbi Firestone, which makes not mention of the concept. The second reference obviously came from this site, due to the very unusual transliteration that you posted. It is fairly obvious to the casual observer that it is a standard Shia reference. Furthermore, the reference you quote is a saying of 'Ali, not Muhammad.

7) Given the above references, you obviously do not seem to comprehend that the notion of intercession is not something universally accepted among all Muslims. Many Sufis (both Sunni and Shia) espouse the concept, as in their view, the Awliya (not necessarily Shaheed or "martyrs") act as intercessors. The notion that martyrs have intercessory rights is a very Shia concept, as martyrdom is highly revered in the Shia sects as most of the Imams were in fact martyred. Mainstream Sunnis necessarily reject the concept, with the exception of the Prophet himself. Given your lack of familiarity with this topic, it would seem that my previous comments were all the more appropriate. What is so striking is that it is fairly common knowledge that this is a major difference between the Sunni and Shia; the fact that your fail to comprehend this is exceedingly glaring.

8) Regarding the role of unbelievers in the OT, one need look no further than Commandment 1, the violation of which was most certainly capital punishment for hundreds of years. Suffice it to say, that those who violated Commandment 1 were guilty if disbelief or "unbelief" and therefore "unbelievers". I do believe that not only a cursory examination of the Talmud will support this, but also the Corpus Iuris Civilis as well. So, just who is being "obfuscatory"?

9) Regarding the link to the concept of the Houri, it seemed entirely appropriate given your casual reference to "virgins" as a reward for martyrdom. If you think that I was being overly pedagogic in proving that information, fine, but you really in no way showed that you were as familiar with the topic as you claimed.

10) My tone may have seemed overly acrimonious to you, but given your choice of timing and words it seemed, in all fairness, an appropriate reply. No, I do not think myself supremely knowledgeable, as I am merely a student myself- though for 20 years now. Neverthless, your implication that i was sabotaging the debate in suggesting that your dabbling was insuficcient, is really something of a straw man.

Perhaps I was a bit overly magnanimous in the last part part of my previous message. Seriously though, if you have spent the last 8 years in academia you should know that there are ways to verify information on websites, and that there are more than a few books that you could readily consult. Furthermore, if you have spent that length of time in academia, you would know that initially accusing someone being pedantic or obfuscatory is hardly a credible debate tactic. You would do well to spend time getting a better grasp of concepts like martyrdom, and how they are viewed by different sects rather than airing your essentialist views, much less castigate me for pointing out the failure in a particular line of reasoning.

That said, you certainly have been far more civil and even erudite in your posts, and I do appreciate that, as it has been noticeably lacking on this board. The problem is that one's level of erudition in no way makes up for one's lack of knowledge, or the employment of logical fallacies; so, much of what I posted remains effectively unchallenged. I only hope that you can manage to marry your skills with an increased level of understanding.

In Peace...


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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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