Monday, June 4, 2007

Muhammad: History vs. Walt Disney

Recently, I was in North Carolina for a conference on Islam. In my hotel room, I decided to watch the news. I had never seen Glenn Beck’s show, but since he was talking about Islam, I listened as I ironed my shirt for the next day. Glenn was discussing some brutal acts perpetrated earlier that day in the name of Islam. He had a Muslim guest on his show, and, to my surprise, Glenn informed the viewers that Muhammad, far from being violent, had actually come to put an end to the brutal practices of the pagans in Arabia. Glenn’s Muslim guest heartily agreed, and the two went back and forth praising the gentle Muhammad and declaring that Muslims who perpetrate acts of violence are acting contrary to the teachings of their prophet.

Shortly after I returned home, I heard a feminist professor tell her students that most of the objectionable Muslim teachings about women arose long after the time of Muhammad. The prophet of Islam, as it turns out, was a great benefactor to women. Later Muslim leaders, however, used their power to place women in bondage. Surely Muhammad would be appalled at the treatment of Muslim women in the world today.

Thus, according to Glenn Beck, Muhammad came to end the brutal tactics employed by militant Muslims in our world. Similarly, according to the feminist professor, Muhammad came to liberate women, only to have his advances hijacked by disgruntled leaders.

Those of you who have studied any of the early Muslim sources are, of course, wondering where Glenn and the professor got their information. Glenn told his viewers that he was getting his information from a book by Karen Armstrong (one of the West’s leading proponents of the “Walt Disney” version of Muhammad). The professor, I assume, got her information from Muslim friends and acquaintances, or from poorly researched books or articles. Whatever the source of this information, one thing is clear: these claims have nothing to do with the Muhammad of history.

Muhammad ordered his followers to assassinate people who insulted him or criticized Islam—even women and the elderly. Apostates were to be executed. Muslims beheaded hundreds of Jews for trying to defend themselves against the spread of Islam. In the early Muslim literature, we even read about Muhammad commanding his followers to burn out the eyes of some apostates who had murdered a shepherd. The Muslims cut off the hands and feet of the apostates and left them in the sun to die of dehydration. This is just a sample of the actions and teachings of Muhammad. (Click here for more on violence in Islam.)

As for Muhammad’s view of women, we have to be honest. According to Muhammad, women are intellectually deficient and therefore less reliable than men. The majority of people in hell will be women, since women are so ungrateful to their husbands. A Muslim man is permitted to beat his wife if he fears rebellion. Muslims are even allowed to have sex with their female captives. (The manner in which this practice was carried out is shocking. After defeating a tribe, Muhammad allowed his followers to have sex with female captives whose husbands and fathers had just been slaughtered. Needless to say, such sexual intercourse would hardly have been consensual. Click here for more on Muhammad and women.)

Given the facts of history, along with the current actions of Muslims in the world today, I find it simply amazing that a (Christian) talk-show host and a feminist professor can so confidently proclaim such historically inaccurate descriptions of Muhammad. I find it even more amazing that very few of Muhammad’s modern defenders (whether Muslim or non-Muslim) go to the earliest sources to verify their claims. It’s as if people have lost all concern for accuracy and have decided to believe whatever makes them feel best. (I think we see the same trend when it comes to Jesus.)


Abdul Fadi said...

It is amazing to me how many Muslims today try to paint to us a different picture about Islam and Muhammad than the real one known 1400 years ago.

If we can simply invest the time to read some of the earlier writings about Muhammad which dates back almost 1300 years ago (almost a century after Muhammads time), we will find that those writers like Ibn Ishaq (and later Ibn Hisham) give a different account about early Islam and the life of Muhammad, than present day Muslims who have no proof whatsoever to back their claims by, other than their sense of pride.

The question is: Do we believe 1st Century Islam followers, who were so close to action, or do we believe 21st Century Muslims who are so far away from reality?

I think the answer is very eazy to figure out!!

GeneMBridges said...

This comes as no surprise to me that this was on Glen Beck. Beck is also a Mormon and is trying to pass off Mormonism as another version of Christianity. He's a political conservative, and, unfortunately, there are those in the evangelical movement who won't challenge him on these historical and theological blunders for that reason. He should be soundly challenged for these misrepresentations.

thinkingforme said...

It amazes me how similar the awful rape story your shared is to...

Numbers 31:17-18 (King James Version)

17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

And... since Jesus/God/Holy Spirit have been "as one" since the beginning of time, your hero JC was right there beside "Big Daddy" cheering the rapists on!

I, like you, was a victim of a bad religion, and after 30 years, I finally had the sense to think for myself and reject it - only mine was Christianity!

I really don't see how you can use reason to leave one relligion only to reject reason to accept an equally evil one.

I hope one day you can apply the same critical scrutiny to Christianity and see it for what it is as well.

David Wood said...


Criticisms should be accurate. Otherwise we're just spreading falsehood. But there are some important differences between the two instances:

(1) The Jews married their captives, and gave them time to mourn. In Muhammad's case, the Muslims had sex with the women and then sold them into slavery. That's quite a difference.

(2) I'm not sure you understand the purpose of the Old Testament law. I'm sure I'll do a post on it some day, but I'll say here that the OT law is not God's final revelation. The OT was meant to teach us some things, until God revealed himself in Jesus Christ. And Jesus certainly didn't go around raping anyone.

Yet you said that the two instances are similar. Not quite. For Christians, our final revelation tells us to love everyone, to pray for those who hate us, to be kind even to our enemies. Bur for Muslims, Muhammad's words and deeds are binding. Muslims are commanded to be like Muhammad, which is why it's frightening to think of certain things Muhammad did.

You say that you, like us, were the victim of bad religion. If you can show that Christianity is false, then you might be justified. But all you've done so far is make a bad comparison. You act as if we didn't think about the difficult aspects of Christianity when we converted. But here you're wrong. We agonized over our decision. But in the end, the evidence won.

Here's an article that discusses this more fully.

(Yes, two of the writers converted from Islam to Christianity. I converted from atheism to Christianity. We all know why we believe in King Jesus. Do you know why you believe whatever it is that you believe?)

thinkingforme said...


Here's the passage I believe you are refereeing to:

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (King James Version)

10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,

11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;

12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;

13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.

14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

So... it's okay to kill a young girl’s entire family and then force her to marry you (rape her for the rest of her life) as long as you shave her head and give her 30 days to get over it? So just keep raping her as long as you have "delight" in her, and as long as you don't sell her to slavery after you're done with her, you are acting on a much more moral premise? I see you're point - a much kinder/gentler system ; )

Put yourself in her sandals and try to imagine the man who possibly killed your dad, your mother, your aunts and uncles, your older brothers and sisters and your baby brothers, burned your house down with all of your clothes, killed your pets, and who now brings you to his tent and shaves your head and then starts to have sex with you after thirty days. Then if he gets tired of raping you he lets you go. Go where? To the wilderness to starve or be raped by other soldiers? Since it was okay to have slaves of other people, don’t you think you would end up a slave or dead very soon anyway? But as long as your rapist doesn’t sell you it’s okay. Nice! Much better!

The example I included in my previous comment however, simply tells the soldiers to keep the young girls “alive for yourselves”. You (with your 21st century moral standards) can interpret that any way you want, but a barbaric soldier pumped full of testosterone and ego from winning a battle and killing a few thousand men, non-virgin women and baby boys, might take a few liberties with such an open-ended statement. It would logically follow that once they were raped and had then “known man by lying with him” they would certainly qualify acceptance into the first category and be killed.

It’s hard to think that two people living in 2007 C.E. are even having such a discussion. If we heard of these types of actions going on today, we would be appalled. But because (in my opinion) you are thinking backwards… in other words, you have begun to assume that the bible is true/moral/perfect so you figure a way to explain its atrocities and moral difficulties is in a way that makes your conscience feel good about worshipping such a monster. And the New Testament/Jesus has an even bigger moral problem: Eternal hellfire for the simple act of thinking a certain way. More simply put…. believe this 2000 year old text or I’ll make you wish you were raped a thousand times and killed by slow torture. At least the Old Testament Jews believed that death was the end.

I assume that the fascists followers of Hitler figured out some way to justify their actions as well and thought they were doing the “right” thing by some twisted moral standard. They like the Jews of Moses were killing, raping, and stealing the property owned by their (perceived) enemies for a “just” cause (in their twisted brains) - so it was morally acceptable (to them and their fellow fascists).

(Yes, two of the writers converted from Islam to Christianity. I converted from atheism to Christianity….

Actually, I do see how it would be easy to shift gears from Islam to Christianity – the systems are so similar that basically only the names are changed. As far as switching from atheism to a religion – it happens but (in my research) it is usually not a fundamental form of religion. More commonly it is a very liberal form, a form that seldom necessitates the need to apologize for rape, murder and hell. A great site to research conversions in both directions is:

“…but I'll say here that the OT law is not God's final revelation”

What evidence do you have that it ever was revelation? There’s absolutely nothing within it or within the NT that leads me to believe either of them is God’s revelation. They claim to be God’s revelation but so does the Koran and a dozen other religious texts. I could claim that this reply is the revelation of the “true” god, but that’s just my word – just like the authors of the bible.

That being said, I respect your right to hold your beliefs no matter how twisted they are – as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of other human beings… oh and you don’t try to push your religion on me or my children through my tax dollars. From what little I have read from you, (I just stumbled across this blog) I suspect that you offer that same respect to others as well. And since I initiated this dialogue and don’t have time to expound, I will respectfully bow out.

Have a happy life!


David Wood said...


You missed my point. You wrote both of your comments as a criticism of Christianity. I pointed out that Christianity does not allow rape and that Christians would not endorse many OT practices. I believe that those laws served a purpose, but they are not God's final revelation or will for man.

You responded that you don't see evidence for accepting either the OT or the NT as revelation. Fine, but that's beside the point. My response was simply that it's odd to criticize Christianity for supporting a practice that Christianity doesn't actually support.

On a side note, I think it's interesting that you demanded the right to believe whatever you like without having others push their views on you, and yet you're pushing your views on everyone else. Consistencey is important.