The Logical Fallacies of Islamic Apologists
27 Dec, 2008
These fallacies are, however, not limited to the Muslims alone. People of other faiths also commit these fallacies, albeit in different scales and measures. Since Islam is the core issue at hand, I will limit myself to this particular stream of thought.
- These fallacies are in no way exhaustive, however the intent is that you will son be able to recognize them and not be fooled by them.
Accent is a form of fallacy through shifting meaning. In this case, the meaning is changed by altering which parts of a statement are emphasized. For example:
“We should not tell lies unless we are in danger”
“We should not tell lies unless we are in danger”
Be particularly wary of this fallacy, it's easy to misread the
emphasis of what's written. This is a very common fallacy,
especially used in debates over the internet and in general articles
as such... Better be aware of them.
Ad hoc (for this purpose only)
There is a difference between argument and explanation. If we're interested in establishing A, and B is offered as evidence, the statement "A because B" is an argument. If we're trying to establish the truth of B, then "A because B" is not an argument, it's an explanation.
The Ad Hoc fallacy is to give an after-the-fact explanation which doesn't apply to other situations. Often this ad hoc explanation will be dressed up to look like an argument. For example, if we assume that Allah treats all people equally, then the following is an ad hoc explanation:
"I recovered quickly from my cancer."
"Allahu Akbar, Alhamdullilah. Allah is your healer."
"So, will He heal others who have cancer?"
"Err.. Allah knows best."
Affirmation of the consequent
This fallacy is an argument of the form "A implies B, B is true, therefore A is true." Here's an example:
"If the universe had been created by a supernatural being, we would see order and organization everywhere. And we do see order, not randomness--so it's clear that the universe had a creator."
Amphiboly occurs when the premises used in an argument are ambiguous because of careless or ungrammatical phrasing. For example:
"Premise: Belief in Allah fills a much-needed gap."
One of the simplest fallacies is to rely on anecdotal evidence. For example:
"There's abundant proof that God exists and is still performing miracles today. Just last week I read about a girl who was dying of cancer. Her whole family prayed five times a day for a whole month and prayed for her, and she was cured."
It's quite valid to use personal experience to illustrate a point; but such anecdotes don't actually prove anything to anyone. Your friend may say he met JFK in the supermarket, but those who haven't had the same experience will require more than your friend's anecdotal evidence to convince them.
Anecdotal evidence can seem very compelling, especially if the
audience wants to believe it. This is part of the explanation for
urban legends; stories which are verifiably false have been known to
circulate as anecdotes for years.
Argumentum ad antiquitatem
This is the fallacy of asserting that something is right or good simply because it's old, or because "that's the way it's always been." The opposite of Argument ad Novitatem.
"For thousands of years Muslims have believed in Allah. Islam must be true, to have persisted so long even in the face of persecution."
Argumentum ad baculum (Appeal to force or fear)
An Appeal to Force happens when someone resorts to force (or the threat of force) to try and push others to accept a conclusion. This fallacy is often used by politicians, and can be summarized as "might makes right." The threat doesn't have to come directly from the person arguing. For example:
"Thus there is ample proof of the truth of the Quran. All those who refuse to accept that truth will burn in Hellfire."
“In any case I will find where you live, and do you know that I have been trained to slaughter animals.”
Argumentum ad crumenam
The fallacy of believing that money is a criterion of correctness; that those with more money are more likely to be right. The opposite of Argument ad Lazrum Example:
“Islam is undoubtedly superior, why else would Muhammad be able to kill all his enemies.”
Argumentum ad hominem (Abusive: attacking the person)
Argumentum ad hominem literally means "argument directed at the man"; there are two varieties.
The first is the abusive form. If you refuse to accept a statement, and justify your refusal by criticizing the person who made the statement, then you are guilty of abusive argumentum ad hominem. For example:
"You claim that Non-Muslims can be moral--yet I happen to know that you have sexual relations outside marriage."
This is a fallacy because the truth of an assertion doesn't depend on the virtues of the person asserting it. A less blatant argumentum ad hominem is to reject a proposition based on the fact that it was also asserted by some other easily criticized person. For example:
"Therefore we should close down the Mosques? Christians and Jews would have agreed with you."
A second form of argumentum ad hominem is to try and persuade someone to accept a statement you make, by referring to that person's particular circumstances. For example:
"Therefore it is perfectly acceptable to slaughter animals Islamically for food. I hope you won't argue otherwise, given that you're quite happy to wear leather shoes."
This is known as circumstantial argumentum ad hominem. The fallacy can also be used as an excuse to reject a particular conclusion. For example:
"Of course you'd argue that pigs are not unclean. You're a Non-Muslim who like to eat pork.”
This particular form of Argumentum ad Hominem, when you allege
that someone is rationalizing a conclusion for selfish reasons, is
also known as "poisoning the well.” It’s not always invalid to refer
to the circumstances of an individual who is making a claim. If
someone is a known perjurer or liar, that fact will reduce their
credibility as a witness. It won't, however, prove that their
testimony is false in this case. It also won't alter the soundness
of any logical arguments they may make.
Argumentum ad ignorantiam (Argument from ignorance)
Argumentum ad ignorantiam means "argument from ignorance." The fallacy occurs when it's argued that something must be true, simply because it hasn't been proved false. Or, equivalently, when it is argued that something must be false because it hasn't been proved true.
(Note that this isn't the same as assuming something is false until it has been proved true. In law, for example, you're generally assumed innocent until proven guilty.)
Here are a couple of examples:
"Of course the Quran is true. Nobody can prove otherwise."
"Of course telepathy and other psychic phenomena do not exist. Nobody has shown any proof that they are real."
In scientific investigation, if it is known that an event would produce certain evidence of its having occurred, the absence of such evidence can validly be used to infer that the event didn't occur. It does not prove it with certainty, however.
"A flood as described in the Quran would require an enormous volume of water to be present on the earth. The earth doesn't have a tenth as much water, even if we count that which is frozen into ice at the poles. Therefore no such flood occurred."
It is, of course, possible that some unknown process occurred to
remove the water. Good science would then demand a plausible
testable theory to explain how it vanished.
Argumentum ad lazarum
The fallacy of assuming that someone poor is sounder or more virtuous than someone who's wealthier. This fallacy is the opposite of the Argument ad Crumenam. For example:
“Sufis are more likely to possess insight into the meaning of
life, as they have given up the distractions of wealth."
Argumentum ad logicam
This is the "fallacy fallacy" of arguing that a proposition is false because it has been presented as the conclusion of a fallacious argument. Remember always that fallacious arguments can arrive at true conclusions.
"Take the fraction 16/64. Now, canceling a six on top and a six on the bottom, we get that 16/64 = 1/4."
"Wait a second! You can't just cancel the six!"
"Oh, so you're telling us 16/64 is not equal to 1/4, are you?"
Argumentum ad misericordiam (Appeal to pity; Special pleading)
This is the Appeal to Pity, also known as Special Pleading. The fallacy is committed when someone appeals to pity for the sake of getting a conclusion accepted. For example:..
“Muhamad did not kill the Quraiza Jews, Please don’t find him guilty, he was suffering enough by the death of his son Ibrahim.”
Argumentum ad nauseam
This is the incorrect belief that an assertion is more likely to be true, or is more likely to be accepted as true; the more often it is heard. So an Argumentum ad Nauseam is one that employs constant repetition in asserting something; saying the same thing over and over again until you're sick of hearing it.
“Islam is the only true religion of Allah (God)”
Argumentum ad novitatem
This is the opposite of the Argumentum ad Antiquitatem it's the fallacy of asserting that something is better or more correct simply because it is new, or newer than something else.
“Islam is a better religion than Judaism because it also accepts Jesus as a Prophet of God”
Argumentum ad numerum
This fallacy is closely related to the argumentum ad populum. It consists of asserting that the more people who support or believe a proposition, the more likely it is that that proposition is correct. For example:
“One hundred and twenty billion people believe that Islam is the true religion of God. To suggest that it isn’t in the face of so many believers is ridiculous.”
“All I’m saying is that millions of people go for Haj, so there must be something to it.”
Argumentum ad populum (Appeal to the people or gallery)
This is known as Appealing to the Gallery, or Appealing to the People. You commit this fallacy if you attempt to win acceptance of an assertion by appealing to a large group of people. This form of fallacy is often characterized by emotive language. Muslim apologetics use this fallacy a lot in putting their arguments in public debates.
"Pornography must be banned. It is violence against women."
"For thousands of years people have believed that Allah is the only deity worthy to be worshipped and Muhammad is his messenger. This belief has had a great impact on their lives. What more evidence do you need that Muhammad was the Prophet of God? Are you trying to tell those people that they are all mistaken fools?"
Argumentum ad verecundiam (Appeal to authority)
The Appeal to Authority uses admiration of a famous person to try and win support for an assertion. For example:
"Ibn Sina was a genius and he believed in Allah."
This line of argument isn't always completely bogus when used in an inductive argument; for example, it may be relevant to refer to a widely-regarded authority in a particular field, if you're discussing that subject. For example, we can distinguish quite clearly between:
"Mawdudi gave a fatwa on rape in Islam"
"Pervez Mussharaf said the Quran needs to be reinterpreted"
Mawdudi was an Ulema of Islam, so it can be understood that he
could pass a fatwa. However Mussharaf was an army General, even
though he was a Muslim, it’s less likely that he could make such an
Also referred to as the "black and white" fallacy and "false dichotomy," bifurcation occurs if someone presents a situation as having only two alternatives, where in fact other alternatives exist or can exist. For example:
"Either man was created, as the Quran tells us, or he evolved from inanimate chemicals by pure random chance, as scientists tell us. The latter is incredibly unlikely, so ..."
Circulus in demonstrando
This fallacy occurs if you assume as a premise the conclusion which you wish to reach. Often, the proposition is rephrased so that the fallacy appears to be a valid argument. For example:
“Kafirs must not be allowed to hold an office in a higher position. Hence any high government official who is revealed to be a Kafir will loose his job. Therefore Kafirs will do anything to hide, and will be open to blackmail. Therefore Kafirs cannot be allowed to hold a high office.”
Note that the argument is entirely circular; the premise is the
same as the conclusion. Circular arguments are surprisingly common,
unfortunately. If you've already reached a particular conclusion
once, it's easy to accidentally make it an assertion when explaining
your reasoning to someone else.
Cum hoc ergo propter hoc
This fallacy is similar to post hoc ergo propter hoc. The fallacy is to assert that because two events occur together, they must be causally related. It's a fallacy because it ignores other factors that may be the cause(s) of the events.
“Crime in society has increased since the advent of television. Clearly television is Satan, and must be banned.”
These were a few logical fallacies that Muslims as well as defenders of other faiths commit. However in the absence of real issues Muslims tend to use them more commonly than any other group.
This was a basic introduction to the world of logic, logical fallacies and their understanding thereof. These are some of the foremost pillars of Atheism. A very common example of a logical fallacy is when people say that all Communists are atheist and hence all atheists are communists. This is a very major logical fallacy which people who for most of the time sound logical. The reason behind this is that there is a plethora of emotion behind the derivation of certain thoughts of an individual who does not base his thoughts on reason.
Ibrahim Lone is Kashmir-born ex-Muslim.