Dr. Jonathan Brown on Historical Criticism of Islamic Primary Texts

Screenshot from 2018-02-08 23:10:32

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

This blog post is adapted from my notes taken from Dr. Jonathan A. C. Brown’s lecture on the topic of historical criticism and how it’s been applied to Islamic primary texts, especially the hadith collections. Watch the lecture here: part 1part 2part 3. Note that it’s about 3 hours long including the Q&A, so be warned. It’s definitely worth a watch though, from beginning to end.

The lecture was given around the time that the UK government-sponsored documentary Islam: The Untold Story by charlatan historian Tom Holland was in the news. Basically, the documentary tries to tell a speculative revisionist story of the origins of Islam. Dr. Brown’s lecture is not a direct response to the documentary, but it contextualizes some of the assumptions being made in this documentary and other revisionist pieces that are claiming to examine Islam from a “critical” lens. Anyway, I’ll end the introduction here and start the portion based on my notes. Note that the section “My Thoughts” at the end of this post is not based on the lecture; those opinions are strictly mine.

Continue reading “Dr. Jonathan Brown on Historical Criticism of Islamic Primary Texts”

Is Darwinian Evolution True?

dna

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

A subject that has received significant attention and discussion in the modern and post-modern era is that of Darwinian Evolution, and the consequences it has for our religious, philosophical, or metaphysical beliefs. I want to address this topic from an Islamic point of view. Of course, I do not claim to represent Islam or Muslims in any way; these views only represent one person and that’s me. I hope to follow up on this with another post that addresses human evolution specifically, In Sha Allah.

Continue reading “Is Darwinian Evolution True?”

My Notes from Mind and Cosmos

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I read the book Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel some time back, and I figured it’d be a good idea to share the notes I took while reading it. Nagel is an atheist philosopher, though he’s one of the few honest atheists, so he talks quite openly about how many of the current orthodox theories about materialism, evolution, etc make no sense.

It should be stated that these are my notes, and not a summary of the book. I didn’t understand some parts, like some of the stuff about teleology, so I left them out, and I paraphrased some stuff according to my own thoughts and interpretations, so please do not assume that everything written below is coming from Nagel (though much of it indeed is). I would recommend you read the book also if you’re interested, it would give you a better idea and more detailed explanation of these concepts than my notes.

Also, I used Google Docs voice typing to transcribe these notes. I tried my best to correct the mistakes and format them, but there still might be errors, so I sincerely apologize if any of these errors slipped through uncorrected. Please notify me in the comments or via Twitter DM (@604yousuf) if you notice anything.

Continue reading “My Notes from Mind and Cosmos”

Thoughts after reading The Brothers Karamazov

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I recently finished reading The Brothers Karamazov, a book written in the year 1880 by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It’s one of the famous classical books, although it was a challenging read and quite long (took me nearly 2 months), so I wanted to get my thoughts & reactions down in this blog post. This post isn’t really coherent so please forgive me for that. I might also edit or add more as I continue to reflect on the book.

Continue reading “Thoughts after reading The Brothers Karamazov”

Is Hell Just?

a fire

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

One of the more controversial ideas, in some circles, is that God will punish wrong-doers with eternal damnation in Hell. In this blog post, I will first explain why it is Allah’s right to reward and punish, and we are in no position to question His judgement. I will then talk about the Islamic theory of salvation and how to attain it. Finally, I’ll answer the question: why will good people who were non-believers in God go to Hell?

Continue reading “Is Hell Just?”

Olaudah Equiano on the Ottomans

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Islamic history is a fascinating subject. And one of the most interesting things to read is an account of a foreign land written by a traveler. This book excerpt combines both of those elements.

The book is called The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. It’s an autobiography first published in 1789 by a former slave. He traveled and experienced a lot in his life, but here I want to focus on Equanio’s visit to the Ottoman Empire.

The source for this excerpt is courtesy of Project Gutenberg. A link can be found here.

Instead of using the block-quote feature, which would become inefficient for a very long excerpt, I just added lines before and after the quote. I also added my notes using a superscript (like this0) which you can read at the bottom. And I split up some long paragraphs as well. Enjoy! Continue reading “Olaudah Equiano on the Ottomans”

The Diversity of Religion

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Human beings follow many, many religions, and each one claims to be the truth. Obviously, these claims to absolute truth are, for the most part, irreconcilable. Christianity and Hinduism can’t be true at the same time. Same for Islam and Zoroastrianism. Either there is one God, or many deities, or none. The mutual exclusivity of the world’s religions (and for the purposes of this post I’ll count atheism/agnosticism as a “religion” even though they’re technically not) should be quite clear to most people, hopefully.

So how do we explain this diversity? Continue reading “The Diversity of Religion”

Ways to better the ummah

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I just watched a khutbah by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan (about the Paris shooting) which gave a relatively grim outlook on the current state of the Muslim ummah. You can see the khutbah here. I left some comments which you can read/reply to here and here. I will reprint the second comment below.

Some ideas to better the ummah: Continue reading “Ways to better the ummah”

My Response to Jerry Coyne

Bismillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasoolillah.

Jerry Coyne wrote an article, published on his blog as well as in the New Republic, in which he claimed that it’s wrong to claim that ISIS is not Islamic. The title of the piece was: “If ISIS Is Not Islamic, then the Inquisition Was Not Catholic.” He claims that both ISIS atrocities and the Inquisition are examples of crimes carried out in the name of religion, and so if we argue that ISIS is not truly Islamic we’d have to claim that the Inquisition was not truly Catholic. However, the piece is full of logical fallacies (and factual errors: such as his claim that the Qur’an calls for killing apostates) as articles by “New” Atheists usually are, so I’ll respond to his main claim here:

  1. There is a such thing as “true” religion. Perhaps Jerry Coyne and his fellow atheists see the world (specifically: moral values) in subjective and changing terms. But religion deals with absolute Truths. Coyne himself acknowledges this when he criticizes religion for promoting “dogma.”
  2. The Inquisition was sanctioned and carried out by the official Catholic Church. ISIS has been condemned by every major Muslim institution throughout the globe. Coyne’s comparison of the two is a false equivocation.
  3. Muslims have been fighting against ISIS for almost a year now. Thousands of Muslims have lost their lives trying to stop ISIS. Just because it wasn’t on the news, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. For more info, see: this, this, and this. Also, a June 2014 report (link – AR) by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that 2,764 Syrian rebels alone had died, up to that point, fighting against ISIS. That doesn’t even include Kurds and Shi’ites, who are also Muslim, and it’s probably even higher by now. There have also been thousands of civilian casualties, vast majority Muslim.
  4. How many Catholics lost their lives trying to stop the Inquisition?

So I think we can safely conclude that while the Inquisition was indeed “Catholic,” ISIS is certainly not Islamic.

Salaam,

Yousuf


Update: Musa Furber has some excellent comments about Coyne’s article in this Facebook thread as well: https://www.facebook.com/musafurber/posts/833924539981748.

David Berlinski Destroys Secularism

Bismillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasoolillah.

One of my favorite writers and speakers about science and religion is David Berlinski. He’s Jewish himself, and he wrote a devastating critique of “New” Atheism called The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.

This is an excerpt from that book:

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing. And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either. That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.

‘Nuff said.

Salaam,

Yousuf