Friday, March 05, 2010

Response to "Fake Ex Muslims" - Part 3

I've responded to the "Fake Ex Muslims" (FxM) site twice previously (first) and (second). This is the third response. I'll address a few more issues and then respond to FxM's responses to my previous section.

1. Insha-Allah or Al-Hamdolilah

In one video that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner claims that Muslims say "Insha-Allah" (which I'd roughly translate as "according to the will of Allah"). FxM notes that the correct Muslim response is actually "Al-Hamdolilah" (which I'd roughly translate as "to the praise of Allah"). As far as I know, FxM is right.
"Insha-Allah" is similar to the Christian "If the Lord wills." It is primarily (again, as far as I know) a prospective comment. One would, therefore, say, "I will (Insha-Allah) go to the market tomorrow." In contrast, one might say, "I was robbed (Al-Hamdolilah) in the market yesterday.

Result: This looks like one of Caner's embellishments. The basic point Caner is trying to make is simply that Muslims ascribe the course of events to the will of Allah. Caner is correct in that regard, but he seems to have spiced up his story with biographical details which seem unlikely to be true.

2. Salah in the Bathroom?

I see that part 13 of the video series connected with FxM is out. The gist of the argument presented is that Caner claims to have prayed (performed his Salah) on a prayer rug in high school bathrooms. FxM notes that this is a prohibited thing in Islam. FxM concludes that consequently Caner was lying.

The problem for FxM is that although it is forbidden, sometimes Muslims do it (example). The example I provided is from a forum. Notice that the folks answering the opening post give a variety of answers.

I also note that my friend, Dr. White, has taken the position that the idea that Caner prayed in the bathroom is probably an embellishment (link).(I also discovered this rather unusual response - link - from someone who claims to be a Muslim, and claims that "This is allowable in the Hanafi legal school in Islam." Of course, that article questions FxM's Muslim credentials, attacks Dr. White, and contains numerous problems in terms of English spelling and grammar, so I'm not really sure whether we should even take that website seriously.)

Result: This may be evidence that Caner was not a carefully observant Muslim - it is not proof that Caner was lying.

3. Halal and Haram

In at least one video (and apparently at least one audio), FxM notes that Caner is associating Halal and Haram with dietary restrictions. FxM correctly notes that the signification of Halal and Haram is broader than just dietary restrictions. Nevertheless, Halal and Haram do refer to the dietary restrictions.

Result: Caner may or may not be unaware of the broader signification of the terms. His comments in the video are, strictly speaking, true and accurate, whether or not they are precise.


Response to FxM's reply (reply is halfway down the page at this link).

As to 1) I do agree that Ergun Caner has used the November 4, 1982, date many times. I also agree that my suggestion that it should be 1981 is just speculation. I am doing my best to try to reconcile the conflicting evidence in a reasonable way. Whatever doubt that someone may have that the Caner brothers were Muslim, one cannot reasonably doubt that the Caner brothers became professing Christians. It then follows that they first professed their faith at some date - the only question is what date.

As to 2) I agree that there have been numerous occasions where Dr. Caner has given people the false impression (either explicitly or implicitly) that he was raised in Istanbul, Turkey.

As to 3) I agree that if Caner converted prior to November 3, 1981, then Caner would have been 14, not 15. I was simply going back one year from November 4, 1982, to November 4, 1981, in view of the comments by Ergun and Emir that their conversions were one year apart.

As to 4) I should have spoken more carefully, in saying that FxM had not yet raised this issue as one of the issues on his main web page. I, of course, am not aware of his work that is in draft form or of his comments on Youtube.

As to 5) I think the apparent gibberish was more of an attempt to amuse than to con, but obviously FxM disagrees with me. The clip (the one I've seen - FxM indicates that there is a second one) shows that Caner was really getting "into it" (as we would say) with the crowd.

As to 6) FxM seems to have mistakenly thought that I was ignoring the concept of Laylatul Qadr. I was not. I was trying, apparently unclearly, to emphasize the fact that the birthday of Mohamed is not as significant in Islam. Consequently, while it is an error to say that Laylatul Qadr was the same day as Mohamed's birthday, it is not a particularly serious error. It would have been more serious if Caner had given Mohamed's birth date (in the third month), but Caner did not. And, of course, the point of what Caner was saying was that Mohamed was 40 years old at the time, which is a common Muslim belief.

As to 7) I may be wrong to say that the error is relatively trivial. David Waltz seems to agree with FxM that this error by Caner is a significant one (link to Waltz).

(At this point the numbering repeats, because we are now referring back to the first round of responses)

As to 1) I agree that I was wrong to say that "Jinn" was the correct word for angel. FxM states that "Malaika" is the correct word for angel, whereas Jinn would have been the correct term for the evil spirit (although Jinn don't necessarily have to be evil spirits according to Islam). Islam makes a distinction between Angels and Jinn. In fact, I think FxM has made a slight error here (although I am not accusing him of being a fake Muslim because of this error). The Arabic word for "angel" (singular) is Malak. Malaika is the plural form ("angels").

As to 2) FxM states says that I should think that "Ergun does not possess this intrinsic knowledge of Islam that he claims to have." If one judges Ergun's knowledge of Islam only by his writings, Ergun's knowledge of Islam appears significantly more substantial than when we judge it by his videotaped oral presentations. For example, the 40-day Ramadan error is not made in Unveiling Islam and in that book Ergun is clear that the first revelation (discussed above) is believed to have come during the month of Ramadan (see page 42). The book also does not make the mistake about the 12th/Hidden Imam (see page 159). The book even mentions the correct birthday for Mohammed, placing it in the third month (see page 160). I have noticed that FxM's criticisms are mostly focused on Ergun's oral presentations. I'm not saying that those criticisms are invalid. I'm simply noting that if Ergun doesn't know what he's talking about, it is hard to explain how he gets things right when he's writing. But perhaps FxM has some responses planned to Ergun's book(s). I may simply be unaware of his plans.

As to 3) no further comments.

As to 4) I hope Ergun will prove FxM by providing clarification, but we'll have to wait and see.

As to 5) FxM declines to argue over whether the Muslim or Christian view is correct. I realize that there is a time and a place for everything. That debate is, of course, not directly germane to the Caner issues. Nevertheless, I would love the opportunity to demonstrate to FxM that the Bible's teaching regarding the Messiah is the truth that is to be believed.

As to 6) FxM indicates that he lost sympathy for Caner when Caner used derogatory terms for Arabs and when Caner said something negative about Mohamed. I don't defend the use of derogatory terms for people. That kind of offense is unnecessary, and I don't let Caner off the hook simply because he claims to be a part of the group (as FxM may be unaware, in some parts of American culture it is thought that members of a group can use derogatory terms for that group, as long as they are part of that group). On the other hand, we who follow Jesus must necessarily take a negative position about Mohamed, who denied the divinity of Jesus. To deny that Mohamed is a false prophet would be to betray our Lord. We realize that this will offend Muslims, but it is a necessary offense. Both positions cannot be correct, and following our Lord requires us to affirm his divinity and to designate those who oppose the Gospel of Jesus as false prophets.

As to the remaining comments) FxM notes that Dr. White "hits the nail on the head" with respect to the issue of whether Caner debated Ally. I agree with Dr. White and FxM in that regard. I note that while questions remain regarding how Caner could make such an error, the error itself has been acknowledged. FxM also notes that "There is something called embellishing stories, then there is something called lying through your teeth." I agree that there is a difference. FxM, responding to my comment about Caner's father's work on the Islamic Foundation building, states: "Then Ergun should not put “BUILD” in capital letters on July 2009 Q&A." I agree that it was a bad choice of words. Regarding the photographic evidence that Caner's father was at the Islamic Foundation, FxM wrote: "If I were to send Francis a picture of my father standing at the entrance of a farm – that does not mean my father was a relatively good farmer." I agree, but I don't think the analogy holds. I agree that having one's picture taken with an Imam is not proof in itself. It is simply evidence.

FxM further asked: "Do devout Muslims heavily smoke? (Ergun says his dad was a heavy smoker)" In my experience, lots of Muslims smoke and smoke openly. I can't say whether Islamic law places a certain limit on smoking, although I am sure that an argument exists that heaving smoking is dangerous for health and consequently haram.

FxM further stated: "Do devout Muslims celebrate birthdays? (Ergun says they were “Wahaabis”, they don’t celebrate birthdays)." I can't recall Ergun saying that. FxM clearly has more familiarity with Ergun's many oral statements than I do. Nevertheless, that sounds like an embellishment. The Islamic Foundation on Broad St. in Columbus, OH, is not a Wahaabi institution, as far as I can tell. I don't recall birthdays being haram for Sunnis in general, but I may be mistaken.

FxM added: "Besides – Ergun first uploaded the picture of him standing inside a room with that Imaam who is in the picture and the caption of the image stated that the Imaam was his father." Yes, that was a very odd mistake. I don't doubt that they were at the place with their father (as opposed to their mother), but the man in the picture was obviously not Caner's father.

FxM concluded: "Francis fails to see any reason to doubt Ergun Caner being a Muslim – that’s quite ignorant of the nearly 70 errors/lies that have been presented in totality (videos + website)." I certainly see plenty of evidence than Ergun embellished his biography, particularly in his oral presentations. I also see evidence that Caner spoke carelessly on many occasions. However, I have no doubt that Ergun Caner said the Shahada as a child, even if he only said it on the weekends when he was with his father. That is "enough" for a child to be considered Muslim, from what I understand of Islam. I note that someone (perhaps FxM?) has suggested that Ergun erred in one oral presentation by claiming that one has to say the Shahada specifically to an Imam in order to be a Muslim. I think FxM should be willing to admit that there is evidence that Caner was a Muslim, even if he was not nearly as devout as some of Caner's self-reports would seem to indicate.



thegrandverbalizer19 said...

With the name of God. Peace be unto you. Well I must say that in the interest of James White saving face you have done an excellent job.

I also feel that you have done your best in being fair and balanced on the matter. You have questioned Ergun Caner on his inconsistent remarks and yet also showed grace towards him.

By the way I am a Muslim, I guess anyone can question anything they want. Are you really a Christian? I try not to waste time on this. I would like to be gracious and take people at their words.

Yet your guy James White just doesn't know when to quit does he?

I guess the point that I am making with those who believe everything James White says is gold is this: Do any of us even know the islamic education and background of mokhan247 or myself for that matter? The people do not know what either of our qualifications are.

One thing you can rest assured of is that neither of us are the final word on Islamic jurisprudence. I think if either of us were on that level we wouldn't have time for the internet.

That's why I think you have done an excellent job (even better than James) of taking a look at the video and chomping bit by bit.

James White quotes from Fiqh Us Sunnah (Salafi complilation of opinions that agree with their precooked views of Islam).

What you may or may not be aware of is that Salafism does not represent traditional Islam. You may feel a kinship with it because of your afinity for the reformation; but I assure you it is not traditional Islam.

That said when Mokhan247 and/or James White understand that it is a legally valid opinion among the Hanafi 'ulemah that in times of need or fear one may pray in the bathroom they both would be wise to refrain from saying, "It doesn't take a Muslim scholar."

As far as my grammar and writing it will take some time. I'm trying to improve upon that great American education everyone seems to be getting.

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 42 million adult Americans can't read; 50 million can recognize so few printed words they are limited to a 4th or 5th grade reading level; one out of every four teenagers drops out of high school, and of those who graduate, one out of every four has the equivalent or less of an eighth grade education.

Ken said...

Yes, that was very balanced and fair.

Good job.
Ken T.