Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

It is Official: Muslims Reinterpret the Quran!

Sheikh Youssef Alqardawi is probably the most famous Muslim scholar in the Arab world. He is one of the most influential and highest ranking Islamic scholars and sits on many Islamic committees. He is a rich celebrity and has a reputation of being a moderate Muslim scholar who promotes moderate and science-friendly Islam. His reputation is not blemished by his support to Hamas and other radical Islamic organizations and the suicide bombing that kills civilians and children. As would be expected, Alqardawi is a top ranking member of the Muslim brotherhood.

[The Arabs believe that Sheikh Alqardawi is a devout Muslim, who follows the example of his prophet. This devotion was put to practice when the old man, over eighty years now, got married to an Algerian girl named Asma, when she was only seventeen years old, and reportedly younger than his granddaughter. Unlike Mohammed, our Sheikh was not endowed with the sexual power of forty men, so he had to rely on that blue pill made by the infidels and much consumed by the Arab Sheikhs. Only Allah knows what happened between our Sheikh and his young wife, because recently they had a divorce. Of course, a Sheikh in his position doesn’t speak about his private life, but these are the news that has been circulating about him in the Middle East.]

Alqardawi is an Egyptian who lives in Qatar and appears on Al Jazeera’s weekly programme ‘Sharia and Life, where he discusses issues related to Islam and answers some of the questions put to him, through phone calls, by his audience. On his latest appearance on Aljazeera on 22 February 2009, he rejected the evolution theory, because the Quran says otherwise, which is the standard Islamic answer. He reassured his audience that Muslims do not need to worry about the evolution theory as long as it remains a theory, only if it becomes a recognized scientific fact that the Muslim scholars would reinterpret the relevant verses in the Quran to bring them in line with proven scientific facts. “This is not unprecedented in Islam” admitted Alqardawi as he explained how early interpretations of the Quran referred to Earth as flat, but when a globe Earth became a scientific fact, Muslim scholars reinterpreted the verses by changing their meanings! In fact, the programme host referred to some existing reinterpretations made by Muslims, who claim that the Quran agrees with science, which Alqardawi neither ruled out nor endorsed. His position was: it is too early for that, we are still safe!

Reinterpretation means changing the meaning of the verses completely; the same verses that currently mean the evolution theory is wrong would mean, after reinterpretation, that it is correct! The next step for Muslims is to claim the Quran told us about the evolution thirteen hundreds years before Darwinanother Quranic miracle!

What a Quran and what a religion! What is the point in claiming the Quran is the unchanged word of Allah, if mortal humans can change the meaning of that word as they please? And they claim Islam is divine! What is a manmade religion if Islam is not?

Of course, Alqardawi is not with us to answer this question, but his answer would be that they only change the meaning of verses on scientific issues, not on religious issues. Muslim scholars know that Islam has been selling well recently, to both Muslims and potential converts, because of the claim that the Quran contains scientific miracles. In a ‘scientific climate’ like that, it would be inappropriate to discover that Islam contradicts science on many issues.

Alqardawi’s outrageous answer did not look that way to his Muslim audience; on the contrary they accepted it as a logical response. This is hardly surprising since Muslims have been practicing the principle of reinterpretation whenever they find an error in the Quran. Alqardawi’s answer and Muslims’ pliant response to it confirm what we have been saying about Muslims’ defence of the Quran. They bury their heads in the sand to avoid looking at the painful conclusion that the Quran is faulty. They shamelessly reinterpret the Quran by twisting the language and changing the meanings of the words or even introducing completely new meanings. From the Muslims’ point of view, the only thing that cannot be changed is their assumption that ‘the Quran is correct even when it is wrong’.

Alqardawi’s answer reminded me with a similar answer I heard from a Muslim ‘intellectual’ many years ago. That Muslim claimed that there is scientific evidence that honey helps to cure most diseases, which supports a Quranic claim [Q 16:69], made fourteen hundreds years ago. I asked that ‘intellectual’ what would be his position if science proves that honey has no healing power at all, and whether, in that hypothetical scenario, he would accept that the Quran is wrong. “No” he said loudly and clearly, and went on to explain what he would do: “the Quran is never wrong, but should such a scenario ever happens, I would consider alternative meaning for the word ‘shifa’ (which is Arabic for cure)

This explains why debating Muslims can be a waste of time and energy, simply because they do not have free minds necessary for objectivity. They cannot follow a logical protocol in their debates, because they already committed themselves to that fixed conclusion that the Quran is correct. It is sad that many Muslims are not even aware of this level of inanity they have reached for the sake of defending an erroneous book. When normal people read a book with errors and contradictions, they simply conclude it is an erroneous book and no chance for it being divine. But when those people happen to be Muslims and the book happens to be the Quran, they keep reinterpreting the text until they imagine there are no errors, and then they conclude the book is divine!

The following is an example of the Islamic way in understanding the Quran:

The Quran says in many verses that the earth is flat; it used all the available Arabic vocabulary and language expressions to confirm that statement.

  1. If, hypothetically, scientists discover that the earth is truly flat: Muslims would say: This discovery is in full agreement with the Quran, which described it clearly fourteen hundreds years ago. This is a miracle!

  2. If, hypothetically, scientists discover that the earth is like a cube: Muslims would say: All those words used by the Quran to say flat actually describe the flat surface of the cube. This is a miracle mentioned in the Quran fourteen hundreds years ago. Muslims can find a confirmation to this claim in another place in the Quran [78:33]. The word ‘cube-like’ was actually mentioned in the Quran to describe the nice firm breasts of those seventy two virgins waiting for every Muslim in paradise (opposed to the saggy breasts of Muslims’ earthly wives). Muslims can claim that the expression ‘kawaeba atraba’, meaning firm breasts, was used by the Quran to refer to the shape of the Earth and has nothing to do with tempting the Muslim men with some cheap sexual expressions.

  3. As long as the scientists still say that the earth is a globe, then all those words and expressions used by the Quran to describe the Earth as flat, have actually been misunderstood, because Allah meant to say “Earth appears to us flat”. The word ‘appear’ magically disappeared but we should have the intelligence to understand what Allah meant.

And so on!

The Circle of Darkness

When Muslims say something about the Quran, by the time they finish they forget what they said in the beginning. Their argument goes in circles:

  • This is how they prove their claim that ‘the Quran is divine’: The Quran is divine because it is a perfect and error free book.

  • And this how they prove their claim that ‘the Quran contains no errors’: It is illogical to say the Quran contains errors, because it is divine and perfect.

This is what I call the Islamic circle of darkness.

Mumin Salih is a Middle Eastern ex-Muslim.

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