Given this tremendous problem in the world of Islamic thought, it seemed good to me to start a section on Muslim inconsistencies. Muslims often see something they dislike in Christianity, and they proceed to complain about how awful it is. Then, of course, someone points out that the same thing can be found in Muslim sources. Why didn’t the Muslim notice the obvious?
Let’s consider a simple example. Recently, Yahya Hayder Seymour began complaining about “Christian missionaries” who feed people and, in the process, preach the Gospel to them. According to Yahya, it is deceptive to use such methods of evangelism. Here’s how he began:
“ . . . I'm beginning to realise that Christians do spread the bible with rather deceptive methods, this man's job is to function as a soldier (despite the fact christians claim to be pacifist) and yet he feels the need to abuse vulnerable iraqis by offering them a different religion along with the aid they are bringing. Much like the ‘Rice Christians’ whom many Missionaries speak of when discussing evangelising the Muslim world.”
I pointed out to Yahya that Jesus, during His earthly ministry, met people’s physical needs (by feeding them and healing them) and preached the Gospel to them, and that Christians who feed people and preach to them are simply following Jesus’ example of caring for the whole person. I asked Yahya if he thought this was deceptive. He replied:
“I literally mean deceptive! If I attempt to proselytise a Christian who is going through a Nervous Breakdown, that is taking advantage of someone in a rather vulnerable situation. . . . It's really upto you David, produce "Rice Christians" if you will, but I think it's sickening to be honest.”
So we can see that, according to Yahya, it’s “deceptive” and “sickening” to take advantage of people by using worldly things to help people convert.
Ben Malik, who also seems to have a built-in Inconsistency Detector, immediately noticed the problem:
“Talking about rice Christians maybe Yahya can explain surah 9:60 where Muslims are told that part of their alms not only go to finance and fund terrorists but also to entice people to become Muslims. Perhaps he can further provide for us the historical application of this passage by his own prophet so we can see how Muhammad distributed more plunder and booty to the Meccans who had recently been forced to submit to his rule in order to bribe them into becoming or remaining Muslims.”
Now let’s look at the evidence. Here’s what Surah 9:60 says:
“Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and the officials (appointed) over them, and those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth) and the (ransoming of) captives and those in debts and in the way of Allah and the wayfarer; an ordinance from Allah; and Allah is knowing, Wise.” (Shakir)
The part about alms being given for those “whose hearts are made to incline (to truth)” is the key. Consider Ibn Kathir’s commentary:
“There are several types of Al-Mu'allafatu Qulubuhum. There are those who are given alms to embrace Islam. For instance, the Prophet of Allah gave something to Safwan bin Umayyah from the war spoils of Hunayn, even though he attended it while a Mushrik. Safwan said, ‘He kept giving me until he became the dearest person to me after he had been the most hated person to me.’ Imam Ahmad recorded that Safwan bin Umayyah said, ‘The Messenger of Allah gave me (from the spoils of) Hunayn while he was the most hateful person to me. He kept giving me until he became the most beloved person to me.’ Muslim and At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith, as well. Some of Al-Mu'allafatu Qulubuhum are given from alms so that they become better in Islam and their heart firmer in faith. For instance, the Prophet gave some of the chiefs of the Tulaqa' a hundred camels each after the battle of Hunayn, saying, ‘I give a man (from the alms) while another man is dearer to me than him, for fear that Allah might throw him on his face in the fire of Jahannam.’ It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Sa`id said that ‘Ali sent the Messenger of Allah a gold nugget still in its dirt from Yemen. The Prophet divided it between four men: Al-Aqra` bin Habis, `Uyaynah bin Badr, `Alqamah bin `Ulathah and Zayd Al-Khayr, saying, “To draw their hearts closer.”’” (Ibn Kathir, Volume 4)
Just to reinforce Ibn Kathir, here’s a passage from Sahih Muslim:
“Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) gave one hundred camels to Safwan b. Umayya. He again gave him one hundred camels, and then again gave him one hundred camels. Sa'id b. Musayyib said that Safwan told him: (By Allah) Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) gave me what he gave me (and my state of mind at that time was) that he was the most detested person amongst people in my eyes. But he continued giving to me until now he is the dearest of people to me.” (Sahih Muslim 5730)
And here’s another passage from Sahih Muslim:
“Abdullah b. Zaid reported that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) conquered Hunain he distributed the booty, and he bestowed upon those whose hearts it was intended to win. . . .” (2313)
And here’s a passage from al-Bukhari:
“Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, ‘I give to Quraish people in order to let them adhere to Islam, for they are near to their life of Ignorance (i.e. they have newly embraced Islam and it is still not strong in their hearts.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari 4:374)
And another from al-Bukhari:
“Narrated Abu Said: Ali sent a piece of gold to the Prophet who distributed it among four persons: Al-Aqra' bin Habis Al-Hanzali from the tribe of Mujashi, 'Uyaina bin Badr Al-Fazari, Zaid At-Ta'i who belonged to (the tribe of) Bani Nahban, and 'Alqama bin Ulatha Al-'Amir who belonged to (the tribe of) Bani Kilab. So the Quraish and the Ansar became angry and said, ‘He (i.e. the Prophet) gives the chief of Najd and does not give us.’ The Prophet said, ‘I give them so as to attract their hearts (to Islam).’” (4:558)
And here’s what we find in Ibn Ishaq:
“The apostle told [the Muslim deputation] to tell Malik that if he came to him as a Muslim he would return his family and property to him and give him a hundred camels. On hearing this Malik came out from al-Taif. . . . He came out by night, mounted his horse, and rode hard until he got to the place where his camel was tethered, and rode off to join the apostle, overtaking him in al-Jirana or Mecca. [Muhammad] gave him back his family and property and gave him a hundred camels. He became an excellent Muslim . . . ” (Ibn Ishaq, p. 593).
And Muhammad also asked Muslims in Ibn Ishaq:
“Are you disturbed in mind because of the good things of this life by which I win over a people that they may become Muslims while I entrust you to your Islam? Are you not satisfied that men should take away flocks and herds while you take back with you the apostle of God?” (p. 597)
Putting all of this together isn’t very difficult. Here’s the syllogism:
Premise One: It’s “deceptive” and “sickening” to use the things of this world to win people’s hearts.
Premise Two: Muhammad, the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira literature, and the commentaries declare that Muslims are to use the things of this world to win people’s hearts.
Conclusion: Muhammad, the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira literature, and the commentaries are deceptive and sickening.
That’s not my argument. It’s Yahya’s. I should note that this was not the method of Jesus. Indeed, Jesus strongly criticized people who believed in Him simply because He was meeting their physical needs. In John 6:26, Jesus tells some of the people who were following Him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” He then proceeds to criticize them for not seeking what was most important: the Bread of Life. Sadly, in John 6:66 we read: “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” Like Yahya, these people abandoned Jesus to seek someone more to their liking. Interestingly enough, Yahya went to Muhammad, and now he condemns the methods of his favorite prophet.