The Charge that He Could Speak Arabic when He Can't. - He only claims to be able to speak Arabic the way most non-Arabic Muslims do. Although he was raised in Sweden by a Swedish mother, Ergun learned enough Arabic (as most Muslims do) to read the Qur'an and speak it in prayer.He may only claim that now. However, as documented here (link to documentation) he stated: "We wore keffiyeh, we spoke Arabic and Turkish, we read the Koran, we fasted 40 days during Ramadan, we lived by the rules of halal and haram and mushbu, the dietary restrictions." Similarly, as documented here (link to documentation) he stated: "Every debate I've ever had, the Muslim, 'Ah you do not understand Islam, you need to understand the Arabic,' What's next? That was my language before English."
I don't see how Dr. Geisler could possibly think that Dr. Caner was just saying he could sound out the Arabic words the way that many non-Arabic-speaking Muslims can. He claims to speak it alongside Turkish and that he understands it, with it being a language of his before English! I suspect this is simply another example of Dr. Geisler not being familiar with the evidence.
The Charges that He was not Turkish as He Claimed. --This stems from a confusion of his nationality and the country of his birth. Ergun was born in Sweden, but he was a Turkish citizen. According to Swedish law a child born in Sweden has the nationality of his father, and Ergun's father was Turkish. Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship. When he came to America, he came as a Turkish citizen with a Turkish passport.First, let me note that I don't know whether Geisler's claim regarding Swedish law is even true. Likewise, I have no way of verifying that Caner traveled with his father at some point (who knows when) to establish Turkish citizenship.
However, Dr. Caner's claim was not simply to being a Turkish citizen. He claimed to be "100% Turkish." (see here, for example) I've never heard someone express citizenship that way. Have you? Has Dr. Geisler? I think, again, Dr. Geisler is just unfamiliar with the evidence.
The Charge that He was never trained in Jihad at a Muslim School. - The charges that he trained in a Sudanese or Lebanese School (Madrassa) are false and are based on wrongly assuming his statement of “Islamic youth jihad” was in reference to a specific terrorist organization. He trained in the one attached to his Mosque as all Muslim children do. And he was trained there in Jihad, as all the other children are-even those who never take up a gun.What Caner claimed, as documented here (link to documentation) was this: "Until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic Youth Jihad. So, until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September, as were thousands and as are to this day, thousands." If that is a claim that all Muslim schools (madrassa can be a generic term for school) teach people to do what was done on September 11, that seems unlikely, and I'll leave it to the Muslims to specifically testify as to whether Geisler's claim in that regard is true. But otherwise, again, it seems like Geisler is probably just unfamiliar with what the evidence actually is.
The Charge that Ergun claimed he “Always Lived” in a Muslim Country before Coming to the US. - Although, the phrase “always lived” is not precise. There is no evidence of an evil intent to embellish here, as his critics say. True, Sweden was not a Muslim country, but he did live as a Muslim with a Muslim father while in Sweden. After all, Ergun's father was from a Muslim country, Ergun was a citizen of a Muslim country, and he lived as a Muslim in Sweden. It would be an embellishment saying that if he was not a Muslim and not a citizen of a Muslim country.It looks like an embellishment saying that you lived in majority Muslim countries (plural) (see documentation), when you haven't lived in even one majority Muslim country, even if you lived with a Muslim father for many years. For example, he states: "And in every country where I had lived, we had always been in the majority. I am Sunni. About 90% of the Muslims in the world are Sunni. That includes the Wahabi, which is a subset, which is what Bin Ladin is. But I had never been around Christians." (documentation) Does Geisler really think that it is not an embellishment to say "in every country where I had lived, we had always been in majority ... I had never been around Christians" when he only apparently ever lived in Sweden (for his infancy) and Ohio for apparently, essentially his entire childhood? Once again, it looks like Dr. Geisler is not familiar with the evidence.
The Charge that He false Claims that “I Came as a Jihadist from Turkey”. - Ergun denies making this statement, and I have not seen any document refuting his claim. He does claim to have been trained in Jihad, as all Muslim children are. And he is of Turkish ancestry. The rest is apparently extrapolated by his detractorsI don't recall Dr. Caner using those exact words. Hpwever, as documented here (link to documentation) his words were this: "Until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic Youth Jihad. So, until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September, as were thousands and as are to this day, thousands." The original context of these words appear to be Dr. White's following comment:
8) How does he explain his often published claim to have come to the United States in 1978 or 1979? How can this be seen as anything other than a purposeful distortion necessary for his “I came as a jihadist from Turkey” rather than “I came as a son of a Muslim father and a Swedish mother to Ohio as a small child” persona?(source) Whether or not that is an accurate characterization of the persona, I trust Dr. White is willing to let those who hear Dr. Caner's speeches decide.
The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims to have been a Devout Muslim. - Caner photos prove of his activity in the Islamic religion. He has a picture of his masallah (when circumcised at age 12); a photo of him praying in the mosque; a picture of his reading the Qur'in recitation. He also has a photo of his receiving a certificate from an Imam. His bother Emir, also a former Muslim, has vouched for the veracity of his claims.If there are pictures of Dr. Caner's circumcision, I guess I'm glad that Dr. Geisler didn't share them.
That said, what is a "masallah"? The word "maşallah" is a Turkish word that literally means something like "God willed it" but which is an idiom for something good or wonderful (a little like the way we in English use "hallelujah" sometimes, though perhaps even a bit more secular). Perhaps Dr. Caner has an old photo with the word "masallah" on it, and he doesn't know what the word means? I'm just speculating on that here. I'd be happy to have Dr. Geisler explain what a "masallah" is, and why Dr. Caner's circumcision ritual was deferred from infancy to age 12 (see discussion here)(additional discussion here).
As for the other pictures, I haven't seen them, and Dr. Geisler doesn't provide them or provide access to them. What was the certificate for? for the circumcision? We have no idea. In any event, the few photos that theoretically exist don't seem to show much more than what one might see of a "Christian" child whose family had them go to Vacation Bible School one summer. It proves participation, not devotion, does it not?
The issue of devotion, however, is something that seems to me to be fairly subjective. It's easy to say "I was devout," and it is hard for anyone to disprove that.
The Charge that Caner Claims to have Learned “Perfect” English in Brooklyn. - Caner denies that he said his English was “perfect.” But he did learn some English while living in the old Jefferson Hotel while the family first migrated to the United States. They moved to Ohio where his English improved.I don't know who claims that Caner claimed to have learned "perfect" English in Brooklyn. Caner does claim to have learned English there. It's interesting that Geisler claims "he did learn some English while living in the old Jefferson Hotel while the family first migrated to the United States." How long were they in the hotel? His brother Erdem was born in Sweden in 1968, and his brother Emir was born in 1970, with the family's migration to the U.S. apparently occurring in 1969. But his brother Emir was born in Ohio, apparently in a little town north of Columbus.
I can't seem to find any record of the "old Jefferson Hotel" in Brooklyn, NY. There is a famous "old Jefferson Hotel" in Richmond, VA, which is not all that far from where Dr. Caner presently resides. Perhaps he is confusing that one with something else? It would be pretty hard for a child of such tender years as Dr. Caner was to remember the name of a hotel that his family stayed at, even if they stayed there an extended period of time. Or perhaps the "old Jefferson Hotel" was simply too small to have left a trace 40 some odd years later.
In any event, a boy of two or three would be quite precocious to learn any large amount of the language. In any event, the claim that I documented (I believe there may be another claim that mentions a street name) is this: "I am an immigrant, I'm Turkish, 100% Turkish, for which I usually have to apologize, because we have horrible atrocities that Turks do, all the time, but I came to America through Brooklyn, NY and learned English at Aquinas (some Brooklyn folk? yeah!) and then moved to Ohio (I'll tell you a little bit about that later) but moved to Ohio and then became a Christian. I was a Sunni Muslim and a jahideen not a mujahideen, not a holy warrior, but I had not made it that high, but I was a jahideen when I got saved." (documentation here) And this less specific one: "Until I was 15 years old, I thought every single one of you hated me. See, I'd been taught my entire life that Christians were hateful, vengeful - that you'd have nothing from me but death - and that we were at war. We came to America through Brooklyn, NY, that's where I learned English. (laughter from crowd) Yup yup. Settled in Columbus, OH. Do you know how I found Jesus? I found Jesus while I was still a devout Muslim - devout Muslim - I was a PK [preacher's kid] for lack of a better term. I had a 'drug' problem: my father drug me to the mosque every time the doors were open." (documentation here)
The Charge that Caner could not have Offered his Muslim Prays in the School Bathroom as he said that he did. - This was neither a shameful or unacceptable practice for Muslims, as some critics claim. The Islamic Hadith allows it, and it is done by devout Muslims to this day as has been pointed out by former Muslim Hussein Wario (www.husseinwario.com).Mr. Wario is another Muslim who, like Dr. Caner, converted at a young age. It might be advisable for Dr. Geisler not to assume that Mr. Wario is some sort of expert in Islam.
It is certainly not normal for Muslims to perform their prayers in the bathroom. There are basically two places where Muslims normally do not feel permitted to perform their prayers: bathrooms and graveyards.
Is it possible that Dr. Caner performed his prayers in the bathroom at high school? Of course it is possible. Anything is possible. But we have no good reason to believe that he did that, or that such an action would be consistent with him being a devout Muslim.
The Charge that Caner Claimed Ramadan was Forty Days Long. - Muslims claim this feast is only 30 days long, and Caner said it was forty days. Caner cites Muslim authorities to the contrary, showing it can last up to forty days. Even the Qur'an (Sura 2:51) speaks forty days of fasting.Ramadan is the name of a month (see discussion here). Islam uses lunar months, so they are always one lunar cycle long, and the moon has never taken 40 days to cycle (normally it is 29-30 days). Ramadan is also the name of the fast during the month of Ramadan (see discussion here).
Caner may cite to Muslim authorities to the contrary, but that's really beside the point. He doesn't just claim that Ramadan is 40 days, he claims he personally fasted 40 days during Ramadan: "we fasted 40 days during Ramadan" (documented here) See also these clips:
So, while there may be some argument to be made that some tiny group of Muslims somewhere fast for forty days, that argument doesn't seem to be applicable to Caner.
As for the reference to Surah 2:51, read what it says - here are three translations:
YUSUFALI: And remember We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence ye took the calf (for worship), and ye did grievous wrong.
PICKTHAL: And when We did appoint for Moses forty nights (of solitude), and then ye chose the calf, when he had gone from you, and were wrong-doers.
SHAKIR: And when We appointed a time of forty nights with Musa, then you took the calf (for a god) after him and you were unjust.
And here is the Arabic:
وَإِذْ وَعَدْنَا مُوسَىٰٓ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةًۭ ثُمَّ ٱتَّخَذْتُمُ ٱلْعِجْلَ مِنۢ بَعْدِهِۦ وَأَنتُمْ ظَلِمُونَSo, yes, that verse of the Koran mentions "forty days" but it does not say that Ramadan is supposed to be forty days. This prooftexting reminds one of the prooftexting that Dr. Geisler's book, Chosen But Free was criticized for using, as Dr. White explained in The Potter's Freedom.
The Charge that Caner Confuses the Shahada with the Beginning Words in the Surat at-Fatiha. - It is alleged that no knowledgeable devout Muslim would confuse these two. But both are part of Islamic prayers that are recited many times every day. The first is the confession and the second is a recitation.This response does not seem to make much sense. The entire point is that a devout Muslim would be familiar with both prayers. Such a person confusing the two prayers for one another does not seem to make much sense. Can you imagine a devout Roman Catholic confusing the Lord's Prayer with the Hail Mary, even in Latin in the old days? It's almost unimaginable. Both are very familiar prayers.
The Charge that His Family Did Not Disown Him When He Converted to Christianity as Caner Claimed that they Did. - It is true that after the divorce he was raised by his mother who obviously had not disowned him since she was no longer a Muslim. But his Muslim father who had remarried did disown him. This is the Muslim “family” to which he referred. This was very painful to him since he lived only a half hour away but could not even speak to him.It may be obvious to Dr. Geisler that Caner's custodial family didn't actually disown him, but I question whether it was obvious to any of the groups to whom Caner spoke. For example, when Caner said “I had no family,” after his conversion (documentation) was the audience supposed to somehow know that Caner just meant that he didn't have the second family that lived half an hour away? Or what about when he said on the Zola Levitt show: "They won't dilute. Islam is Islam - and that was me coming to America: a fiery young man - all three of us, the three sons from our mother - all three of us devout Muslims - our father just this hero to us and when I converted - disowned by my family - completely disowned - father cut me out of the pictures - a year later both of my brothers became believers." (documentation) How does one go from "completely disowned" to simply being disowned by a non-custodial parent?
Yes, I'm sure it was painful - and there is no need to minimize or trivialize that. On the other hand, saying things like "completely disowned" or otherwise suggesting that, when his mother and grandmother with whom he lived did not disown him does sound like an embellishment, does it not? Again, I'm not sure if Dr. Geisler is really familiar with the facts.
The Charges that He was not Turkish as He Claimed to be. --This stems from a confusion of his nationality and the country of his birth. Ergun was born in Sweden, but he was a Turkish citizen. According to Swedish law a child born in Sweden has the nationality of his father, and Ergun's father was Turkish. Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship. When he came to America, he came as a Turkish citizen with a Turkish passport.This is a duplicate of one that is already addressed above.
The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims that he has had more than Sixty Debates with Muslims. - Critics challenge this statement and claim it is an intentional embellishment. But they mistakenly assume that all debates are formal. Caner lists many formal debates in the last ten years or so. But he has also engaged in multiple informal debates as well. There is no evidence to deny his claim. Indeed, given his numerous encounters with Muslims, it is reasonable to assume there were at least sixty.Caner lists many formal debates in the last ten years or so? Where? We've reviewed Dr. Caner's debating claims before (see the discussion here - we cannot seem to find these formal debates, or even any informal debates).
The Charge that no Knowledgeable Muslim Would Mis-cite the Hadith as Caner Did. - It is charged that Caner often cites the Hadith without mentioning the actual name of the collection. But, as even Muslim scholars admit, there is no “official” way to cite the Hadith. It is often cited without reference to the collection.What Muslim scholars does Dr. Geisler have in mind? Citing a specific Hadith saying by simply saying "Hadith 3:16" is the same as saying "Bible 3:16." Maybe a person will correctly guess the book (in the case of the Bible) or the collection (in the case of the Hadith), but a citation to "Hadith 3:16" would be an incomplete citation. The wording of this answer appears to strikingly similar to Hussein Wario's claim:
I said “there is no “official” way to cite Hadith. The most authentic Hadith collection is Sahih Bukhari. Many times when it is quoted, it comes without the name because it is the most authentic and widely referenced.(source) Is Hussein Wario supposed to be Geisler's "Muslim scholars" admitting things? I hope not! As noted above, he's a Christian who converted as a teen, like Ergun Caner (or younger, like Emir Caner). There may be Muslim scholars who would cite Sahih al-Bukhari without specifically saying so, because in their context a person would know that this is the one collection they are using. However, the Caners, in their books, do not rely only on that one collection. (more discussion of the Hadith citation issue here)
The Charge that Caner did not Debate Shabir Ally in Nebraska. - Dr. Caner has admitted that this was a mistake and has publically apologized for it. He did, however, engage another Muslim while in Lincoln, NB. No one has proven this was an intentional deception, as some critics claim.First of all, the appropriate abbreviation for Nebraska is NE. The fact that Dr. Geisler got this wrong doesn't mean he's not a real American. Of course, it may not be that Dr. Geisler himself actually even wrote this section.
Second, who is the mystery Muslim that Ergun Caner debated in Lincoln, NE? Is his name something like Shabir Ally? Does he look anything like him? How did the two get confused if (as Geisler seems to think) this was just an honest mistake. Dr. Caner himself gave the following "apology" apparently regarding the Shabir Ally situation (the apology discussed here - alternative link for apology here):
Finally, there is a legitimate complaint which I must address, namely, referencing a Muslim scholar that I have never met. Listening to the audio, I honestly have no idea who I was referencing, but it certainly could not have been the man I referenced. For this unintentional but nevertheless horrible mistake, I repent for saying his name, and I ask the forgiveness of all those who heard it. Sin is sin, and if I am dumb enough to say something like that, I should be man enough to deal with it and aim to never make such a grievous error again. This applies to any time when I wrongly used names. I shall be more careful.Perhaps in the interim between February and now, some new debate in Nebraska has come to Dr. Caner's mind and he has conveyed this to Dr. Geisler. If so, perhaps Dr. Geisler would be kind enough to share this information with us. It would be especially nice if it turned out that this was an actual debate and not simply that Dr. Caner happened to share the gospel with a Muslim barber while having his hair cut in Nebreska (an exceedingly unlikely scenario, I know - and let me point out that it would still be great if he shared the gospel with someone, even if it is not good that he turned that into a claim to have debated one of the leading Muslim apologists). The bottom line is that it sounds like Dr. Geisler is simply speculating that Dr. Caner may have mistakenly used the name "Shabir Ally" instead of the name of a different Muslim debater.
The Charge that Caner has Used various Names in Publications. Dr. Caner has used “E. Michael Caner” in one book while using “Ergun Mehmet Caner” in other books. Why? His mother desired that he use Michael, a name she always wished to give him, while Dr. Caner used “Mehmet” in honor of his father, especially after his father's passing in 1999. Some have even attacked his nickname, “Butch,” which he has used since moving to the South and was a name given to him by those who had difficulty pronouncing his first name.Those sound like great explanations that would seem to be a good explanation for why a person might use various pseudonyms. But Dr. Caner has made claims about what his name is - not just used various pen names.
So what is his real name? He has claimed his real name is something that sounds like "Ergun Michael Mehmet Giovanni Caner" (example)(see longer discussion of name issues here). Is that the truth? Or is Michael the truth? Or is Mehmet the truth? Does Dr. Geisler even know?
The Charge that Caner Claims to have a Ph.D when it is Only a Th.D. - Actually, his degree is a D. Theol. But these degrees are equivalent, as even accrediting agencies attest. Many seminaries have converted the Th.D into a Ph.D program.D. Theol. and Th.D. are the same thing. While a Ph.D. may be an equivalent to a Th.D. in terms of the work involved, the issue is not just that Dr. Caner seems to have sometimes claimed he had a Ph.D. when he did not, but that he (or others on his behalf) claimed to have it in addition to his Th.D. (discussion of the credential issue).
Perhaps in a final segment we can discuss Dr. Geisler's concluding thoughts.