The Qur'an and the Hadith are filled with absurd teachings about Satan sleeping in our noses and prophets communicating with insects (see here, here, here, here, and here for some examples). Bassam finds Muhammad's teachings entirely plausible. But in an effort to draw attention away from Muslim sources, he has written an article on "Biblical Absurdities." Let's look at one of these "absurdities," to see whether I was right about him being too quick to condemn the Bible.
8 One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, 'Be our king.'
9 "But the olive tree answered, 'Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and men are honored, to hold sway over the trees?'
10 "Next, the trees said to the fig tree, 'Come and be our king.'
11 "But the fig tree replied, 'Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?'
12 "Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come and be our king.'
13 "But the vine answered, 'Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to hold sway over the trees?'
14 "Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, 'Come and be our king.'
15 "The thornbush said to the trees, 'If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!'
Trees and bushes can speak to each other?
Well, that certainly seems absurd. Trees and vines talking? This reminds us of Islamic teachings about trees and animals converting to Islam! But let's look at the passage in context, so we can see what Bassam has left out.
And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's relatives, and spoke to them and to the whole clan of the household of his mother's father, saying, "Speak, now, in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem, 'Which is better for you, that seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?' Also, remember that I am your bone and your flesh."
And his mother's relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem; and they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, "He is our relative."
They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him.
Then he went to his father's house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself.
All the men of Shechem and all Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar which was in Shechem.
Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and called out. Thus he said to them, "Listen to me, O men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us!' But the olive tree said to them, 'Shall I leave my fatness with which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?' Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'You come, reign over us!' But the fig tree said to them, 'Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?' Then the trees said to the vine, 'You come, reign over us!' But the vine said to them, 'Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?' Finally all the trees said to the bramble, 'You come, reign over us!' The bramble said to the trees, 'If in truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.'
"Now therefore, if you have dealt in truth and integrity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have dealt with him as he deserved--for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian; but you have risen against my father's house today and have killed his sons, seventy men, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your relative--if then you have dealt in truth and integrity with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume the men of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem and from Beth-millo, and consume Abimelech."
Then Jotham escaped and fled, and went to Beer and remained there because of Abimelech his brother.
Now, in context, is the Bible saying that trees and vines talk to one another (as Bassam has represented it)? Not at all! When we add the context (which Bassam has omitted), we find that this is a parable being told by a man named Jotham. He tells a story to illustrate a point he is making. Hardly an absurdity!
The fact that Muslims will point to this as a problem in the Bible shows how desperate they are to attack the Bible. While I have come to expect this sort of thing from people like Nadir Ahmed, I really think that Bassam is better than this, and that he will remove this obvious misrepresentation from his website so that he doesn't continue to mislead his readers.