Saudi Press: We Need to Change the Qur’an

An Early Qur’anic Manuscript

We need to change the Qur’an! Not quite the kind of headline that you would expect in the Saudi press, but this was exactly the message of two recent articles that appeared in the Kingdom.

The first was published by journalist Ahmed Hashem in ‘Saudi Opinions’ on the 10th of January. Hashem states that there have been huge numbers of copyist errors since the text of the Qur’an was supposedly fixed for all time under Caliph Uthman Bin Affan (ruled 644-656). Hashem lists as many as 2,500 errors that occur in the Qur’an that Muslims read today, citing many concrete examples. He, therefore, urges the Saudi authorities to take action in order to: “…make the text more readable for present day Muslims and more linguistically correct.

This rather startling admission that there are fundamental issues with the reliability of the Qur’anic text was followed by an article published on 20 July 2020 on the Saudi website Elaph, written by Iraqi Kurdish researcher Jarji Gulizada. In it he echoes Hashem’s call that fundamental changes should be made to the Qur’anic text because in its present form: “…it is not suitable for the Islamic nation in the modern world, and especially for non-Arab Muslims.

The articles caused a major furor across the Arab world, particularly because they threw a searchlight on an issue that is rarely addressed in the Muslim world: Namely that serious questions can be asked about the process through which the Qur’an was written down, preserved and transmitted.

At the very least it should tell us that the cozy certainties that the Qur’an has ‘never been changed, never been altered’ (words used in an ad on the London Underground recently) are very far of the mark.

I look at this issue in depth in my book ‘The Mecca Mystery – Probing the Black Hole at the Heart of Muslim History’, along with many other questions about the early history of Islam.

Hagia Sophia Falls Victim to Islamic Suprematism (Again)

The church at the heart of Eastern Orthodoxy – Turned into a mosque to demonstrate the superiority of Islam

In 987 AD some ambassadors from a pagan people known as the Rus were sent from their base at Kyiv (Kiev) to explore the belief systems of other peoples in the region. On their travels they were ushered into ‘The Church of the Holy Wisdom’ in Constantinople. Here is how one of them described that experience:

“We were led into a place where they serve their God, and we did not know where we were, on heaven or on earth; and do not know how to tell about this. All we know is that God lives there with mortals and their worship is better than in any other country. We cannot forget that beauty, since each person, if he eats something sweet, will not take something bitter afterwards; so we cannot remain any more in paganism.”

Thus began the long process of the conversion of the Russian people to Eastern Orthodoxy, inspired by a building. And what a building! Completed in 537 during the reign of possibly the greatest of the Byzantine Emperors, Justinian I (482-565), Hagia Sophia stood at the heart of Orthodox Christianity ever since. Its power, grandeur and majesty never ceases to amaze. That was precisely the point. As Justinian reportedly declared, reaching back to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem for an appropriate comparison: “Solomon, I have vanquished you!

Hagia Sophia soon became the seat of the Orthodox patriarch. This means that for Orthodox believers its status is, in some ways, comparable to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Sadly, however, the empire, at the heart of which it stood, was vulnerable to the encroachment of Islamic jihad. After centuries of heroic resistance the Byzantine empire finally succumbed to the armies of Islam on 28 May 1453. Fittingly and symbolically the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, retreated to Hagia Sophia where he was cut down at the altar by the forces of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II.

Mehmet II had big plans for Hagia Sophia. Upon first entering the church he brought with him a muezzin to issue the Islamic call to prayer. This officially, in Muslim eyes at least, turned the church that had stood at the heart of Orthodox Christianity for 936 years into a mosque. Soon four minarets would be erected next to it to reinforce this position. The loss of Hagia Sophia is still an open wound for Christians around the world and you do not even have to be a Christian to bemoan the forcible conversion, to an alien purpose, of a building with roots stretching all the way back to late-antiquity.

Fast forward to the 20th century and the setting up of the Turkish Republic in place of the Ottoman Empire. In 1931 the great Turkish reformer Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, determined to steer his country on a more secular path, decided to forge a middle-way solution for the status of Hagia Sophia by declaring it to be a museum. This meant that people from both faiths, or none, could at least visit the cathedral and draw their own conclusions from its history. And vast numbers of people did. Clocking in at more than 3 million annual visits it is by far the most popular visitor attraction in Istanbul.

All that changed with the 11 July 2020 announcement by Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the building will, once again, become a mosque. Why would he do such a thing? Is it perhaps lack of space for Istanbul’s Muslims to pray? Hardly. Just across the road from the Hagia Sophia is the ‘Blue Mosque’ with enough space to comfortably accommodate 10,000 worshippers. No, Erdogan’s announcement is a long cherished dream of Turkey’s Muslim faithful. They want the message that Islam vanquished all that came before it to be heard loudly and clearly. What better way to broadcast this than camping out in one of the most significant Christian churches ever constructed?

The world should sit up and take notice of this event. We are so often told that Muslims only want peaceful coexistence. That Islam is just one more thread in the lovely tapestry of diversity. What better way could there have been to showcase this desire for peaceful coexistence than to allow Hagia Sophia to remain a museum (or even, perish the thought, to revert to its intended purpose and become a church again)? Instead, we see a clearly supremacist and aggressive assertion of the absolute superiority of Islam. All of this in a country long promoted as a shining example of a moderate Islamic society.

We are asked to believe that supremacist impulses are somehow left behind when Muslims live in non-Islamic societies. Yet, there are countless mini-Hagia Sophias scattered around the world. Churches, synagogues and temples that are now used as mosques. All communicating the same message. Islam is not here to integrate but to dominate.

Perhaps the fate of Hagia Sophia will finally cause the world to wake up to the reality and dangers of Islamic suprematism. Sadly, I’m not holding my breath.

For more on the textual basis of Islamic suprematism and the ways in which this is manifested, please see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam? – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot’

Antifa: Creating what you Loathe?

Where did Mussolini and Goebels get their inspiration?

You would have to be blind to miss the fact that we are living in revolutionary times. There are forces on the left who are doing their utmost to piggyback onto the momentum generated by the death of George Floyd, hoping to foment radical political change. We need not wonder about the desired direction of travel for the vast cohorts of 21st century radicals egging on the protests. Some of them may still use tamer labels (e.g. ‘progressive’), but many make no secret that they desire a revolution that is redder than red. Like ghouls refusing to die, the spirits of Marx, Lenin and Mao haunt our age once again (as if 100 million deaths in the 20th century was not quite enough).

We can spill much ink about the kind of idiocy that drives yet another generation to promote an ideology that failed so signally (and fatally) in every context that it has been tried. No doubt we will once again hear that all those disasters were ‘Not real socialism’. Still, with this article I would like to make a different, and hugely important, point. It is simply this: Revolution breeds reaction.

In general people do not take kindly to their whole world being turned upside down and ripped apart. Some keep their heads down in order to try and keep the peace. However, once it becomes clear that revolutions don’t have brakes, an inevitable, and often violent, reaction is bound to follow. A surprising part of the historical reactions against Socialism was the fact that so many of the ‘reactionaries’ were once part of the revolutionary cohorts themselves! This is surprising because we tend to think of Fascism as the polar opposite of Socialism. It is, in fact, the one thing most despised by the modern brand of Socialists. Some of whom (cf. ‘Antifa’) self-consciously define themselves in opposition to Fascism.

You have to wonder if even 1 in 1000 of the modern Anti-Fascists have any idea of the history of Fascism and that its deepest roots can be found in Socialism itself. The clue is right there in the name of the movement that they despise above all. Nazi is short for, wait for it, National Socialist German Workers Party. True, the Nazis were not orthodox Marxists but there can be no denying that they were all about nationalising the means of production and elevating the collective above the individual. Both themes that modern ‘progressives’ get misty eyed about.

As if the ideological convergence between Fascism and Socialism is not striking enough, consider the careers of some of the most important 20th century Fascists:
Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), the arch-Fascist and coiner of the phrase, rose to prominence as a member of the national directorate of the Italian Socialist Party and as a journalist at Avanti! the pre-eminent Socialist newspaper in Italy. Later in his life he still continued to value the contribution of Marx and advocated for Marxism coupled with Nationalism (as opposed to Soviet Socialism that was globalist in nature).
Joseph Goebels (1897-1945), the Nazi Propaganda chief, was a deep admirer of Socialist ideas and continued to make it clear, right up to the end of his life, that he despised Capitalism. Like Mussolini he differed from the Soviet Socialists not in terms of their core ideology but in the belief that Socialism should primarily be applied in national entities. Again, this emphasis is right there in the name of the movement: ‘National Socialist’.
• Many other examples of the fact that Fascist ideology had deep roots in ‘orthodox’ Marxism, and differed from it only in terms of its focus (global vs. national), can be cited. However, nothing brings this point home more forcefully than the fact that there was a widely recognised term describing the fact that many Nazis cut their political teeth in Marxist and Communist circles. Such people were called ‘Beefsteak Nazis’. People who were brown (Nazi) on the outside and red (Socialist) on the inside. In fact, the majority of the members of the SA (Sturmabteiling), under Ernest Rohm (1887-1834), were former Communists. Hitler famously suppressed the SA in the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ but not because he disagreed with their ideology. He did this because the SA became so powerful that it represented an alternative power base that could challenge him in the long run.

What is going on here? Perhaps we have become so blinded by the binary distinctions between ‘left’ and ‘right’ that a simple truth evades us. Doctrinaire Marxism and Fascism are much more similar than their adherents would care to admit. In a word they are both totalitarian ideologies. With that comes the ruthless crushing of dissent, the elevation of the collective above the individual and utopian visions of the future (once the pesky ‘other side’ is destroyed).

The fact is that the stark black-and-white thinking (sometimes in the most literal sense), the unwillingness to compromise and the demonisation of all opposition practiced by the modern grandchildren of Marx has all the hallmarks of classic totalitarianism. As sure as night follows day, this revolution will invite a reaction. A reaction that will sometimes be led by modern ‘Beefsteaks’, totally schooled in the methods of the ‘reds’ but now manning the trenches on the other side. Thus, one ironic consequence of the antics of the modern Anti-Fascists could be that they will empower the very thing they claim to despise so much.

Once you abandon freedom in the pursuit of totalitarian thinking, monsters (often of your own creation) will continue to haunt you. Our world has seen enough totalitarian-inspired bloodshed. Free peoples, with a deep appreciation of the rights of the individual, must therefore do their utmost to prevent an erosion of our basic rights even if, or perhaps especially if, it comes to us speaking the language of utopia.

I am currently working on a book looking at the links between the radical left and Islamism, hence this article on one of the unintended consequences of leftist ideology. The book will be published on the next few months. In the meantime I’m sure you’ll enjoy ‘The House Built on Sand’, a novel focussing on the earliest years of Islam that will make you view its truth-claims in a totally new light. Get your copy here.

Dissociating from Slavery – Should the ‘Prophet’ Be Next?

Bristol, England: Edward Colston’s statue being dumped in the river as part of the #BlackLivesMatter protests. In contrast the centuries long history of Islamic inspired Arab slave trading remains unaddressed.

A significant sub-theme of the recent ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests was the emphasis on ‘cleansing’ public spaces from any taint of an association with the historical slave trade. This was perhaps nowhere more graphically illustrated than in the city of Bristol where a statue of the slave-trader Edward Colston was toppled and dumped in the river.

One historical manifestation that is receiving a huge ‘free pass’ in the current furore is Islam and its role in launching and sustaining a massive slave trade over more than a millenium. Instead of coming to terms with Islam’s complicity in motivating slavery, it is pushed as an enlightened alternative to Western values by people who are essentially clueless about its regressive teachings.

Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the disconnect between the idea that Islam stands for human rights and its attitude towards slavery.

Even a cursory examination of the Qur’an and hadiths will quickly reveal that Muhammad enthusiastically participated in the buying and selling of fellow human beings. The following is a brief selection of texts confirming this:

“O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee” (Qur’an 33:50) This is one of the many convenient revelations that Muhammad received. In this case, he is allowed as many sexual partners as he desires from among his female slaves. This verse would presumably not have been ‘revealed’ if Muhammad did not possess any female slaves.

Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) reported: There came a slave and pledged allegiance to Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) on migration; he (the Holy Prophet) did not know that he was a slave. Then there came his master and demanded him back, whereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Sell him to me. And he bought him for two black slaves (Sahih Muslim 10:3901) Here we see the prophet of Islam actually involved in the trading of slaves (selling two black slaves in exchange for a Muslim slave). Note that there is no record whatsoever of Muhammad immediately setting the Muslim slave free. Even if he did set him free it would have been better to pay in cash rather than with the black slaves. By ‘paying in slaves’ he ensured that the freedom of the Muslim slave (if he was indeed freed) was bought at the terrible price of the continued enslavement of the two black slaves.

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle was on a journey and he had a black slave called Anjasha, and he was driving the camels (very fast, and there were women riding on those camels). Allah’s Apostle said, “Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you), O Anjasha! Drive slowly (the camels) with the glass vessels (women)!” (Sahih Bukhari 8:73:182) This is just one of the many examples of Muhammad interacting with his slaves. Interestingly the hadiths often stress the fact that many of Muhammad’s slaves were black.

The Prophet sent for a woman from the emigrants and she had a slave who was a carpenter. The Prophet said to her “Order your slave to prepare the wood (pieces) for the pulpit.” So, she ordered her slave who went and cut the wood from the tamarisk and prepared the pulpit, for the Prophet. When he finished the pulpit, the woman informed the Prophet that it had been finished. The Prophet asked her to send that pulpit to him, so they brought it. The Prophet lifted it and placed it at the place in which you see now.” (Sahih Bukhari 3:47:743) This hadith does not deal with a slave directly owned by Muhammad, but it does show that he had no problem commanding his followers to order their slaves to work on his behalf. It is a staggering fact that the very pulpit that he used to preach Islam from was constructed with slave labor.

Not quite ‘Let Freedom Ring’ is it? In fact, on the basis of the prophet’s teaching and example a centuries long slave trade that terrorised Europe and Africa for centuries was launched. So, will the campaign of ‘disassociation’ reach him anytime soon? Will we soon se #MuhammadMustFall hashtags?

Somehow I’m not holding my breath!

For a fuller discussion of the incompatibility of Islam with Western values see my book ‘Questioning Islam – Tough Questions and Honest Answers About the Muslim Religion’