Friday, October 31, 2008

Still Waiting to Hear from Sami Zaatari

I've asked Sami, over and over again, like a beating drum, to please tell us whether Muhammad's command to kill apostates is applicable today. Based on my interpretation of his comments in our debate, I would say that Sami believes that apostates were only to be killed for a limited time during Muhammad's life because they were spies. According to Bassam, this isn't Sami's position at all. I have to ask Sami what he means, because what he means often turns out to be amazingly different from what he says. So I'll ask again: Sami, will you tell us what you believe about the killing of apostates? And be sure to say it clearly. I don't want you coming back later and saying you meant the exact opposite of what you said and that I'm misrepresenting you because you changed your mind.


B said...

I'm still trying to figure out what David is trying to prove?

If Sami does deny the killing of apostates ruling (which was a position held by a very few respectable scholars), what does that mean? This doesn't throw Sami out of the fold of orthodox Islam nor does it make him a heretic. Nor does it make Sami a "modernist" if he is not purposely favoring his opinion because he is too scared to state the truth. It's just that Sami would be going away from the correct orthodox position "in this specific matter only".

Why doesn't David Wood comment on James White's attacks on William Lane Craig? Why doesn't David Wood condemn Wolfhart Pannenberg for denying the virgin birth?

What is it that David wants? Does he want me to say that Sami Zaatari is wrong on this specific issue? Fine I will...

Sami Zaatari is wrong on the issue regarding Islam's stance on the killing of apostates (if he believes what David claims regarding it)

Okay we are done now. What does this prove by the way? Does this prove that Sami's arguments elsewhere are wrong? Well no it doesnt', so can we move on past this issue?

Stop wasting time and send me your opening statement.



David Wood said...


I've already stated my point. Sami defended the peacefulness of Islam by declaring that Islam doesn't really allow the killing of apostates. If he's wrong, and if most Muslim scholars disagree with him, this needs to be pointed out. People need to understand what Islam really teaches, so that they can then form their opinion of whether it's a religion of peace. Muslims like Sami misrepresent Islam in order to make it look better to Westerners. I simply want the truth to be known. And yet Sami simply won't answer. His silence says it all.

Let's turn this issue around. Suppose you were debating a Christian, and you attacked Christianity on some point. Then this Christian defended Christianity by appealing to a doctrine that isn't true according to Christianity. Wouldn't you want to point this out?

Yahya Hayder Seymour said...

Professor Wood,

I just want to turn the issue a degree further,

Suppose you were debating a Muslim Apologist who had no sense of nuance, understanding of varying issues in the field of your religious jurisprudence and as such remained oblivious to several centuries worth of varying diversity in the views of your religions jurisprudence insisting on a view which has never been viewed as entirely monolithic then wouldn't you get a little frustrated by that person imposing their own fundamentalist extremism onto you and expecting you to adhere to their twisted extremist dry view of religion?

David Wood said...


I agree. But I don't see your point. The Qur'an is clear. Sunni sources are also clear. Western Muslims like Sami decide they can go their own way. But our debate topic wasn't "Are Sami's beliefs peaceful?" The topic was "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" If we define "Islam" as "the religion taught by Muhammad," it most certainly was not peaceful.

Now let's follow the progression here.

(1) David points out that Islam commands the killing of apostates.
(2) Sami declares that the killing of apostates only applied to a few spies during the time of Muhammad.
(3) David points out that this simply isn't what the sources say.
(4) Bassam declares that Muslims who reject the killing of apostates are weak and deceived by Western culture.
(5) David points out that Bassam's critique would apply to Sami.
(6) Bassam claims that Sami doesn't reject the killing of apostates.
(7) David asks Sami to clarify his view.
(8) Sami doesn't respond.
(9) David again asks Sami to clarify his view.
(10) Sami again doesn't respond.
(11) Bassam and Yahya complain that David is asking for a clarification.

If Sami says that his position is X, and Bassam says that X is false, and then Bassam says that Sami's position is not-X, don't I have a right to ask what Sami's position is, especially since part of his defense of Islam rests on it, and especially since Sami constantly accuses me of misrepresenting his position everytime he changes it?

B said...

"Bassam declares that Muslims who reject the killing of apostates are weak and deceived by Western culture"

No, I was talking about those who find it difficult to grasp the concept. There are Muslims who believe in this law, but find it difficult to accept. I say that one reason could be due to weak faith.

This doesn't apply to Sami.

If Sami is holding this belief based on what he percieves to be evidence and is sincere, then the most that I can say is that he is wrong. But I can't go around saying that he is purposely deceiving people and distorting the faith.

If Sami in his debate with David was willing to admit everything else - e.g. the execution of Bani Qurayda, the punishments for sinners, the killing of Ka'b al Ashraf, etc. then what motive would he have then for denying the killing of apostates? I don't see this consistent with modernist and liberal Muslims who try "to appease the West". Usually, these people would tend to deny everything, but Sami didn't.

It appears that Sami sincerely holds this belief (if David is right) and shouldn't be condemned for it in that case. The most one can say is that Sami is just wrong and should be corrected, thats all.

And the problem again is with David's definition of the word "violence". Violence really means violent action that is hostile and unjustified. But that is the problem. The problem is the word "unjustified" and who defines it.

Is the death penalty for criminals unjustified? It seems like the world is divided on the issue. Its not that clear if we only use our logic, which is why we need God to guide us through what is correct.

Muslims appeal to Islam to guide them through. Muslims find the concept of killing apostates to be rational and internally coherent only based on the assumption that Islam is true. There is nothing logically impossible about the belief of God instituting such a law. I definitely understand that there is an emotional problem with this law, but for someone to say that Islam is false because of this law is absurd. Such a claim can't be logically proven objectively.

But now we have a David Wood saying that this goes against Western morals. How does this matter to Muslims? How does this affect Muslims? I don't know. What standard is David using to say whether this is violence or not? I don't know, probably the Bible. So really at the end of the day, whether Muslims admit that killing of apostates is a law or not really won't matter. David would continue to critique Islam as being violent as long as it doesn't live up to his standards.

So no, this conversation really isn't that important David.
As Allah says in the Qur'an:

Surah 2:120

Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) till you follow their religion. Say: "Verily, the Guidance of Allah (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) that is the (only) Guidance. And if you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) were to follow their (Jews and Christians) desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Qur'an), then you would have against Allah neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper.

Indeed, David Wood won't stop critiquing Islam until we become Christians like him. So why bother "to appease" such a person? Who cares if he defines violence differently than what we do? It means nothing. Its not like everyone thinks like him. 20,000 Americans accept Islam each year and they are well aware of all these arguments, yet they use their logic objectively keeping their emotions on the side. That is what leads them to the truth. Islam will continue to be preached and succeed. Islam is slowly overcoming Christianity in Europe (it has in UK so far) and will then eventually overcome secularism, then the entire world.

So all David could do is pray that this doesn't happen in his lifetime, but it definitely is going to happen by the way things are looking now. Islam is growing stronger and stronger and maaaan what a great feeling that is :)



Fernando said...

Listening to thinhs like "So really at the end of the day, whether Muslims admit that killing of apostates is a law or not really won't matter", it's what me, and my entire family gave up on islam after converting from christianinity... We couldn't believe in a religious –and for years no one spoke about that to us– that preaches hate to fellow beings… so listening someone saying that “islam is growing stronger and stronger”, it’s not a surprise: no one spoke to us about the true face of islam… it’s a pity that, other persons, some of whom we know very well, are afraid to admit their false step in turning to islam (that’s why its important to speak about islam true nation), or continuing being muslims… could that be because they, like we where, are afraid of being killed for being apostates? That’s no matter of “western values”, but of human values, and anyone who doesn’t admit that killing other persons, in any circumstance, is an offence to the humanity, it’s because, being intoxicated by a false religios, are themselves, turning inhumane.

BlackBaron said...

Bassam sounds really excited.

If the day ever does comes when Islam is in control of the U.S., I wonder if Bassam and his ilk will still allow men like David Wood and James White to speak out against their non prophet organization.

Will Christians still be allowed to gather together or will we be forced to convert at the point of this non violent religion's sword?

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell (Islam) shall not prevail against it." Matt 16:18

Hemel said...

David,though it is 3 years older but still I want to state that in the debate with Tony Costa on ABN Sami indeed tried to prove that the punishment of apostates was for a limited period of time and it is not applied to now.

Ossie said...

Sami also defended his view that the apostate shouldn't be killed in 2012 debate he had with Wood.

In a 2006 article (, Sami expressed his personal opinion that the apostate should not be killed.

He then studied this fiqhi topic with that belief, and then ended up confirming his belief.

His belief that Islam teaches that the apostate shouldn't be killed seems to based on him looking for sources that confirm his belief, or for sources that can be interpreted to confirm his belief (even though his interpretation of such sources is erroneous).