Islam’s Public Enemy #1
Life TV”s Father Zakaria Botros recently ran a show dedicated to answering the question, “Was Muhammad a messenger from God or Satan?” As usual with these shows, viewers were asked to call in and respond to this question, with poll results revealed at the end of the show.
His co-host in this particular show was an ex-Muslim woman turned Christian, who, a few shows earlier, used to still wear a hijab, but not today—as Zakaria Botros put it, in English, her “new look.” She said that such an offensive question””ascertaining the divine or demonic source of Muhammad’s prophethood””would have enraged her in former days, and how, till today even, it makes her feel awkward, uncomfortable. Such was her conditioning.
Botros was quick to respond by saying that it is not he that insults Muhammad but rather Islam’s books. He, once again, insisted that he’s merely a reader, who is bringing to the table what he reads”””So don’t be angry with me!” he says, somewhat tongue in cheek. “If you don’t like it, then go and burn all those books that portray him so and leave me alone!”
He then spent some time making a valid point: that in Islam, it seems that Muhammad’s honor is to be more zealously guarded than even Allah’s. To prove this, he quoted from a famous Arabic manual of law called Kitab Ahkam Al-Koran (“Book of Koranic Rulings”) by the famous scholar al-Jassas: according to this manual, the apostate must not be killed until he has been given several chances to repent and return to Islam. This same book, however, clearly states that whoever offends the name of the prophet (Muhammad) must be killed right where he stands, not given a chance to repent or take back his words.
So, wondered Botros, while the person who offends Allah by essentially rejecting him and trying to break away from his religion gets several chances to repent, not the one who offends Muhammad””thus, according to Botros” logic, “In Islam, Muhammad has a higher place than Allah.”
As for the question of the show, Botros asked a more pivotal question: how does one differentiate prophets from false prophets? He came up with three prerequisites of prophethood as well as three characteristics of prophets. Today we will examine the prerequisites.
1.A prophet typically receives direct revelations from God
2.A prophet usually does just that””prophesy, usually about the future
3.A prophet’s claim to prophethood is usually supported by miracles
As for receiving direct revelations from God, Botros provided several examples from the Bible, such as Exodus 3:10, where God not only directly communicates with Moses, but also sends him out on his mission. Likewise, the Koran confirms this, by saying that Allah spoke directly to Moses (4:164).
“So, what about Muhammad?” asked Botros; “Did God speak to him direct? Not at all; instead, he was visited by a creature [that is, a created, lesser being], who Muhammad himself was convinced was a demon or Jinn.” (Botros ran an entire episode revealing the many anecdotes in Islamic tradition that indicate that Muhammad was in fact visited by a Jinni, which I hope to translate shortly).
As for the second prerequisite, prophecy, again Botros provided several examples from the Bible of prophets prophesying, such as Psalms 22: 16, which Christians believe foretells the sufferings of Jesus, by nearly two millennia.
Asked Botros: “So, what prophecy did Muhammad bring?” He then quoted from the Koran verses which plainly indicate that Muhammad had no inkling of the future (see 6:50 and 7:188).
To the third prerequisite of prophethood: miracles. Botros indicated the miracles of Moses (e.g., Ten Plagues) and Jesus (raising the dead), which are recorded in both the Bible and Koran.
“So,” asked again, rather dryly, the Coptic priest, “what miracles did Muhammad perform?”
Here his co-hostess said that, from childhood, she, as a Muslim, was taught that the Koran is the miracle of Islam and Muhammad””to which Botros gave a chuckle, only to implore the viewers to not be angry with him, that he is not laughing in mockery but rather dismay.
He then insisted that discussing the problems of the “divine” Koran are manifold””linguistically, contextually, grammatically, etymologically””and that he had already dedicated several shows examining these problems. “However, let’s let one single Islamic book that exposes this issue suffice for today.”
After giving the title of the book, Haqa”iq Al Islam (“the Truths of Islam”), he boomed: “Quick, leave the TV set, or send your sons to the stores to buy this book, because we all know from previous experience that whatever Islamic book is used as evidence against Islam on this show is often immediately pulled off the market!”
He then read from page 200 of that book: “The Koran is most magnificent and perfect in language and structure; thus, if something appears wrong, it is not the Koran that is wrong but rather our understanding of language. As for obvious problems or contradictions, we are obligated to overlook these, for faith will resolve these matters.”
He also quoted Sunni Islam’s most authoritative institution, Al Azhar, saying “We must always strive to discover why in certain instances the Koran appears to not follow correct Arabic grammar. If we cannot find an answer, however, then we must leave the matter to Allah.”
The co-hostess said that Muslims believe Muhammad performed other miracles, according to the hadith. Botros responded by saying that that is simply another contradiction with the Koran, which flatly declares that even though the people demanded a miracle from Muhammad, the only one he could provide was the Koran:
“They say: We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth. Or (until) thou have a garden of date trees and vines, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst, carrying abundant water”¦. No, we shall not even believe in thy mounting until thou send down to us a book that we could read. Say: Glory to my Lord! Am I aught but a man””a messenger?” (17:90-93).
[Stay tuned for part II of, “Was Muhammad a messenger from God or Satan?” dedicated to the characteristics of prophets.]