In a previous post I had begun to defend Ergun Caner against the accusation that he is a "Fake Ex Muslim" (link to my previous post). This post will have two parts. First it will address several more of the "issues" that the Fake Ex Muslim (FxM) site has identified, and second it will provide a reply to a response that FxM provided to my first post.
1. Who Converted in 1982?
In several videos that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner claims to have been saved on November 4, 1982 (or some time in 1982 - not every video specifies the 4th of November). In at least one video and in the Caner brothers' book, Emir Caner claims to have been saved on November 4, 1982. In two videos Ergun and Emir both say that Emir was saved one year after Ergun, and the Caner brother's book says the same thing. Additionally, official (or semi-official) biographies of both men apparently had indicated that they converted in 1982.
Result: It looks like Ergun Caner has mistakenly said 1982 instead of 1981 several times in regards to his own date of conversion and in various places. The inconsistency is a bit irritating, and it would be nice if the Caner brothers would clarify whether indeed Ergun was converted in 1981 or 1982 and whether the brothers were really saved a year apart.
2. Born in Istanbul or Stockholm?
In one video that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner claims to have been born in Istanbul, Turkey. Everywhere else, Caner claims to have been born in Stockholm, Sweden.
In the one video in question, Caner was making excuses for why he wouldn't go tan on the beach. The point he intended was that he had middle-eastern blood and consequently would tan quite a lot, which he apparently did not want. He inexplicably expressed this by claiming to have been born in Turkey.
Result: Embarrassing (also because he employed an ethnic slur connected with claiming he was born in Turkey) embellishment of his point.
3. How Old When Converted - 16 or 18?
In two videos that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner claims to have been 18 years old when he converted. However, Ergun Caner's birth date (according to his facebook page) is November 3, 1966. That would mean that on November 4, 1982, Caner would have been 16 (and he would have been 15 in 1981). Also, in a number of places (such as here) Caner's age of conversion is indicated to be 16 years old. Gahanna High School lists Ergun Caner as being in the class of 1984 (link).
Result: Embarrassing embellishment of how long Caner was a Muslim.
4. Came to America at 12 or 14?
In one video that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner states that he came to American "in 1978" when he was "14 years old." Now, given Ergun's birthdate above, he would have been either 11 or 12 in 1978 (depending on the month of his arrival).
Another troubling thing (that FxM appears to have overlooked) is that Emir Fethi Caner's birthdate is apparently August 25, 1970 (according to his own website's biography). However, the Caner brothers' book states that Emir was born after the Caner family moved to America (Unveiling Islam, p. 17). Emir Caner is listed as class of 1988 for Gahanna High School (link) and Erdem is listed as class of 1986 for the same high school (link). Assuming that each of the brothers was 18 when he graduated (which is usual in the U.S.) then that means that indeed Emir was born in 1970. However, if Emir was born in the U.S. then it means that the Caners moved to America somewhere around 1968-70 (when Ergun was 2-3 years old).
Result: There are some puzzling inconsistencies. Did the Caners move in 1978 or 1968? Was Ergun a teenager or a toddler when he moved? It would be good if Dr. Caner would clarify this biographical point. My guess is that the Caner family moved to America around 1968-1970, because it seems unlikely that they would mistakenly think that the youngest Caner brother was born in the U.S. when he was not. I am puzzled about why and how Dr. Caner could get the date and his age wrong.
In one video that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner appears to be speaking Gibberish as though it were him speaking to his father. After the initial "Isa Ibn Allah," which is a way of saying "Jesus - the Son of God," the rest does sound like gibberish. I should point out that I have limited exposure to Turkish, which is one of the languages that Dr. Caner claims to be able to speak.
FxM also points out that in the video it sounds like Ergun is saying that "Isa Ibn Allah," translates to "I believe in Jesus," which of course it does not. I don't think that's the problem at all. Calling Jesus, "Isa Ibn Allah," is a way of affirming Jesus' divinity and testifying to one's belief in Jesus. That's all Caner meant by what he said.
Result: It looks like Caner embellished his story with some pseudo-Turkish.
6. Date of the First Revelation to Mohamed
In two videos that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner claims that the first revelation took place on Mohamed's 40th birthday. This is inaccurate, according to FxM, since although Mohamed was 40 years old, the revelation did not come on his birthday. FxM is quite insistent that any devout Sunni Muslim (such as Caner claims to have been) would know when the date of the first revelation is, since it is within Ramadan. It is less clear whether all devout Sunni Muslims would also know when the actual date of birth (about 6 month prior) of Mohamed was.
Result: This seems like a relatively trivial error. The main point (that Mohamed had turned 40 when he received his first "revelation") was correct.
7. The 12th (Hidden) Imam
In one video that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner claims that both the Sunni and Shia Muslims believe that a caliph named Mahdi disappeared and is hidden somewhere, still alive. According to FxM, this is something believed only by the Shia Muslims. FxM is insistent that no devout Sunni Muslim could be unaware of this difference in belief between the Sunnis and the Shia Muslims.
Result: Again, this seems like a relatively trivial error. The main point of what Caner was talking about was the belief itself. Although he may (as far as I know, he did) erroneously attribute a Shia belief to the Sunni, this doesn't appear to be a significant error.
Response to FxM's Rebuttal to my first post (link to Rebuttal)
As to 1) FxM helpfully corrects my comment about Jinn by explaining that "Jinn" can be used for both good or evil spirits. FxM argues that understanding the difference between Jinn and the Injeel is a fundamental matter of Islamic doctrine. I have no doubt that it is, but it seems that Caner simply substituted one Arabic word for another. His audience easily understood that he meant spirits, he just used the wrong Arabic word (after using the right Arabic word).
FxM raises the interesting point that Caner claims to have participated in Arabic language fellowships. This means (if it is true that Caner has participated in such) that Caner has even less of an excuse for using the wrong word.
As to 2) I am sorry to hear FxM's report that Caner brushed off this particular error (which he apparently recognized was an error, since he edited it out).
As to 3) Again, I am sorry to hear what Caner's own response to this error of his was. Caner reportedly responded that it was ok for him to say that "Ramadan is 40 days ... because there is a group called the Alawite who fast for 40 days." Whether or not such a group exists, the month of Ramadan (being lunar) is necessarily either 29 or 30 days.
As to 4) I agree with FxM that messing up the Shahada is an astonishingly serious error. I would love to see what (if any) explanation Caner has for this error.
As to 5) I understand that FxM thinks that Muslims have a better understanding of what it means for Jesus to be the Messiah than Christians do. Hopefully, he's aware that we know the Muslim view to be wrong, and we are able to demonstrate the error of the Muslims from the inspired Scriptures. That's a different question, however, from whether Caner was trying to explain that Muslim beliefs about Jesus are wrong, or whether Caner was unaware that Muslims say that Jesus was the Messiah, while interpreting what it means to be the Messiah differently.
As to 6) I agree with FxM that it remains a funny mistake, although perhaps (since I am more sympathetic to Dr. Caner) I view my own chuckles regarding it as more of an embarrassed laugh than an amused laugh.
As to the Conclusion) I agree that Dr. Caner's Questions and Answers don't deal directly with the issues. I note that in the meantime Dr. Caner has provided a new statement (which deals with the issue of his having allegedly debated Shabir Ally, albeit obliquely)(link to statement).
Conclusion to this Section
Again, I think that the evidence provided by FxM is tending to show that Caner seems to be willing to embelish his stories a bit. It's unclear what the proper resolution to his conversion timeline is - but there is a definite set of contradictions there. It is also not clear when he moved to America. It does look like he said "18" where he should have said "16" on at least two occasions. It also looks like he used gibberish to spice up a story he was telling. None of these things, of course, demonstrate that Ergun Mehmet was not previously a Muslim.
If indeed Ergun came to America as a toddler, and if (as his book says) his parents were divorced and his primary custodian was his mother, it is quite possibly that he was not particularly well grounded in Islam, no matter how devout his father was.
I should take this opportunity to point out that the Mirele's blog article suggesting that Caner's father didn't help build the mosque in Columbus, OH seems to be flawed (link to blog article). That article notes that the Islamic Foundation building was actually constructed in the 19th century. However, the article overlooks that the most recent renovation was completed in 1984, which fits well with Caner's story regarding his father's role.
Indeed, that article also shows a photograph of Caner's father (apparently from the late 1970's) in front of the at least partially converted building (there is a star and crescent above one of the windows) (link to photo). Caner's father is the man in the middle in the suit (next to what appears to be some sort of Imam). The face in the photograph corresponds to the face in Unveiling Islam, p. 14.
So, it does appear that Caner was at least raised by a relatively devout Muslim, and there does not appear to be any good reason to doubt that he remained at least formally and outwardly in the Muslim religion until he was 15 or 16.