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Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Bin Laden Documents

I stumbled on this today – back in November 2001, a journalist tracked down some computers used by Al-Queda in Afghanistan. In this 2004 article, he includes excerpts of documents on the computer. It’s interesting to see Bin Laden instructing Mullah Omar, when talking to the media, to talk about grievances against Israel and Iraqi sanctions. But, the private correspondence includes a wider variety of “enemies”. For example, I didn’t know how much Bin Laden hated the UN:

April 11, 2001
From: Osama bin Laden
To: Mullah Omar

… I pray to God—after having granted you success in destroying the dead, deaf, and mute false gods—that He will grant you success in destroying the living false gods, the ones that talk and listen. God knows that those [gods] pose more danger to Islam and monotheism than the dead false gods. Among the most important such false gods in our time is the United Nations, which has become a new religion that is worshipped to the exclusion of God. The prophets of this religion are present in the UN General Assembly … The UN imposes all sorts of penalties on all those who contradict its religion. It issues documents and statements that openly contradict Islamic belief, such as the International Declaration for Human Rights, considering all religions are equal, and considering that the destruction of the statues constitutes a crime …

(The statues he refers to in the last sentence seems to be the Buddha statues in Afghanistan that were destroyed by the Taliban in March, 2001.)

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Google is…

.. a coward?

Google is claiming that this is a bug, but it does seem rather unusual that the religion with the most easily offended followers isn’t showing up with suggestions. In other news, the fact that “Tiananmen Square” doesn’t show up in Google-China is also a bug.

By the way, I tried this in google, just to confirm it. It’s true. (Source)

It’s true that “X is” won’t show up with auto-completion if it isn’t popular enough of a phrase, but “Islam is” will return 3,320,000 results. “Christianity is” only returns 2,480,000. “Atheism is” shows up the auto-completion, but only returns 526,000 hits.

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Time: The Women of Islam

Time has an interesting article up about women in Islamic countries. It talks about how Mohammed might’ve improved the state of women in 7th century Arabia, but his ideas are just plain backwards by today’s standards – and, even worse, now that women’s roles are defined by a 7th century document, they are blocked from gaining equality with men. It is entrenched inequality.

Part of the problem dates to Muhammad. Even as he proclaimed new rights for women, he enshrined their inequality in immutable law, passed down as God’s commandments and eventually recorded in scripture. The Koran allots daughters half the inheritance of sons. It decrees that a woman’s testimony in court, at least in financial matters, is worth half that of a man’s. Under Shari’a, or Muslim law, compensation for the murder of a woman is half the going rate for men. In many Muslim countries, these directives are incorporated into contemporary law. For a woman to prove rape in Pakistan, for example, four adult males of “impeccable” character must witness the penetration, in accordance with Shari’a.

Even worse, women believe it is part of God’s religious order that they are subjugated. (What better way to prevent a slaves revolt than to successfully convince them that it’s God’s divine plan that they remain as slaves?)

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[Via EvolvedRational] This should be filed under “women putting on their own chains, thanks to Islamic brainwashing”:

Mali protest against women’s law

Tens of thousands of people in Mali’s capital, Bamako, have been protesting against a new law which gives women equal rights in marriage.

The law, passed earlier this month, also strengthens inheritance rights for women and children born out of wedlock.

The head of a Muslim women’s association says only a minority of Malian women – “the intellectuals” as she put it – supports the law.

One of the most contentious issues in the new legislation is that women are no longer required to obey their husbands.

“It’s a tiny minority of women here that wants this new law – the intellectuals. The poor and illiterate women of this country – the real Muslims – are against it,” she added.
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8216568.stm

So … as women become wealthier and literate, there will be no more Muslim women? Good to know.

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?

Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.

The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion — Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.
(Source)

This just seems like a horrible setup for a gameshow. Theological debates just don’t make very good gameshows, nor do they fit into a 30-minute time slot. It would be interesting if the atheists could raise counterarguments, but based on the format (10 atheists) I doubt that could work.

There’s also something insulting about the idea that a handful of religious people could convert atheists so easily. It’s almost like they’re saying, “just give me 20 minutes to convince an atheist, and he’ll come out a believer”. Could you imagine the outrage if the format were reversed? If the setup was a gameshow where four atheists and agnostics tried to convince 10 religious people to give-up their faith?

But religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey are not amused by the twist on the popular reality game show format and the Religious Affairs Directorate is refusing to provide an imam for the show.

I’m not surprised at all. Afterall, the show will be in Turkey — where 99% of the population is Muslim. I can’t imagine that Muslim religious authorities would like the idea of a Muslim cleric being put on an even playing field with Christians, Jews, or Buddhists. Even worse, it would expose a lot of the Turkish population to other religions’ arguments. That can’t be a good thing because maybe Muslims would convert to one of the other three religions, or maybe it would convince Muslims that their religion isn’t self-evidently more true than others, leading to a kind of religious liberalism and tolerance.

In fact, another article says that the program’s creators are aiming to educate people about other religions:

The programme’s makers say they want to promote religious belief while educating Turkey’s overwhelmingly Muslim population about other faiths.
(Source)

I can certainly see why religious leaders would be opposed to this kind of thing.

“We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God,” Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told Reuters.

“We don’t approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn’t matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe,” Soylu said.

Sounds like the chief executive is very liberal in her religious belief. I can’t say that I quite understand the idea that ‘belief’ is, in itself, a virtue. She seems to believe in a generic god and must think that most of what’s written in religious books is inaccurate.

There’s also something bizarre about the statement that “God is great and it doesn’t matter which religion you believe in” alongside the fact that a Buddhist in the the group of four. Buddhists don’t worship God; they’re agnostic about the existence of God. I guess that means that ‘belief in a religion is important, whether or not you believe in God’.

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Faith Fighter

According to Game Politics, Molleindustria has done a tongue-in-cheek take down their “Faith Fighter” game in response to Muslim pressure:

Although it was released more than a year ago, Faith Fighter was not on the mainstream media’s radar until yesterday’s Metro UK reported that religious leaders of various stripes were outraged by the game, which features Mortal Kombat-like matches between deities of several popular religions.

As the controversy grew, the Associated Press reported today that the influential, Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference had called for the removal of Faith Fighter from the Internet. Accoring to the AP, the OIC called the game “incendiary in its content” and “offensive to Muslims and Christians.”

The UK’s Metro says:

Religious groups are calling for a ban on an online game where holy figures such as Jesus and the prophet Muhammad fight to the death.

Critics say the free Faith Fighter game is ‘deeply provocative’ and ‘disrespectful’ towards all world religions.

Muslims are particularly outraged because Islamic tradition prohibits drawings of Allah. [maybe they meant to write “Mohammed”]

You can play the game here. Be sure to pay attention to the background during the game. (Hey, is that the FSM floating past?) I liked Jesus’ special “Holy Ghost” attacks.

You can play their “Faith Fighter 2” game as well (it’s more of a commentary on the whole crazy situation).

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Recently, on another website, I read a comment by a Muslim which said that the Christian Bible mentions Mohammad – by name – as the next and last prophet of God. Curious, I asked about it – which book and verse? He responded with Deuteronomy 18:18 and Song of Solomon 5:16.

I’m used to seeing Christians make exaggerated claims about how the Old Testament predicted Jesus, but I have to say that Muslims do an even worse job at apologetics. Here’s all the problems with his claim:

If Deuteronomy and Song of Solomon (written somewhere between 1000 BC and 500 BC) mentioned Mohammed as the next prophet of God, then what about all of the Old Testament “prophets” in the intervening centuries? Muslims believe that Jesus, Isaiah, and Elisha were all prophets, so there’s certainly something wrong if Deuteronomy claims Mohammad would be the next prophet.

Anyway, the verses simply do not support this claim.

Deuteronomy 18:18:

“I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.”

Apparently, Mohammad tried to use this verse to argue that he was a prophet of God. Muslims try to draw parallels between Moses (who supposedly wrote Deuteronomy) and Mohammad – including: “Rejected by his people and then accepted”, “Became a national leader”, “Encountered enemies in battle”, and “Family – married with children”.

The problem is that nothing in this verse is specific – almost any “prophet” could claim that the verse is talking about him. The verse doesn’t even say in what way this new prophet would be like Moses (maybe it simply means that the prophet would be an Israelite – which is exactly what some translations say), so Muslims go on a fishing expedition to find parallels. Further, the verse never mentions the name “Mohammad”.

Song of Solomon 5:16:

“His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Apparently, in the original Hebrew, the words “wholly desirable” or “one worthy of praise” is pronounced as Machmaddim or Muhammadim (Hebrew uses an entirely different alphabet).

There are number of problems with the claim that this is about Mohammad:
(1) The claim that the verse is talking about Mohammad because the Hebrew words sound like Mohammad is quite a stretch. The Bible is a big book, so there are going to be some words that sound like Mohammad.
(2) The reason we don’t see the word “Machmaddim” or “Mohammad” in our English Bibles is because Machmaddim was a word with a meaning (“one worthy of praise”) – it wasn’t a proper name. Proper names get only minor changes during translation. For example, miryam (Jewish) gets translated as “Mary” (English) or “Maria” (Spanish). “Machmaddim” isn’t a proper name.
(3) Nowhere does this verse claim that Mohammad would be the next and last prophet of God (which was the Muslim’s original argument).
(4) These words were written by a woman – not by God. The chapter is actually an erotic love poem. If you step back and look at the chapter as a whole, you’ll find this:

The Torment of Separation

1 “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, friends; Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”
2 “I was asleep but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking: ‘Open to me, my sister, my darling, My dove, my perfect one! For my head is drenched with dew, My locks with the damp of the night.’
3 “I have taken off my dress, How can I put it on again? I have washed my feet, How can I dirty them again?
4 “My beloved extended his hand through the opening, And my feelings were aroused for him.
5 “I arose to open to my beloved; And my hands dripped with myrrh, And my fingers with liquid myrrh, On the handles of the bolt.
6 “I opened to my beloved, But my beloved had turned away and had gone! My heart went out to him as he spoke. I searched for him but I did not find him; I called him but he did not answer me.
7 “The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, They struck me and wounded me; The guardsmen of the walls took away my shawl from me.
8 “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, As to what you will tell him: For I am lovesick.”
9 “What kind of beloved is your beloved, O most beautiful among women? What kind of beloved is your beloved, That thus you adjure us?”

Admiration by the Bride

10 “My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, Outstanding among ten thousand.
11 “His head is like gold, pure gold; His locks are like clusters of dates And black as a raven.
12 “His eyes are like doves Beside streams of water, Bathed in milk, And reposed in their setting.
13 “His cheeks are like a bed of balsam, Banks of sweet-scented herbs; His lips are lilies Dripping with liquid myrrh.
14 “His hands are rods of gold Set with beryl; His abdomen is carved ivory Inlaid with sapphires.
15 “His legs are pillars of alabaster Set on pedestals of pure gold; His appearance is like Lebanon Choice as the cedars.
16 “His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Verse 1 show this woman drinking wine (forbidden by Islam), and have some erotic details (verses 3-6). It’s very clear that this is not a chapter that was supposedly written by God, but it was an erotic love poem written by a woman. It has nothing to do with prophets or foretelling Mohammad as the next and last prophet of God. It’s absurd the way that Muslims try to twist the Bible to make it support their beliefs about the world.

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