Debate “Is the New Testament God’s Word?” (vs. Ijaz Ahmad)

I recently participated in two debates with Muslim apologist Ijaz Ahmad (of Calling Christians) on the debate topics, “Is the New Testament God’s Word?” as well as “What Do the Qur’an and Islamic Tradition Say About the Bible?” The debate video for the first of these two videos is up, which you may view here.

I would also like to make public some materials that I used during this debate, including debate notes, PowerPoint slides and documents that I cited over the course of the debate, in order that those interested may do additional research on the points that have been raised. When the second debate video comes out, I will be doing the same for that.

Presentation notes for my opening statement

Presentation slides for my opening statement and rebuttal

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3 thoughts on “Debate “Is the New Testament God’s Word?” (vs. Ijaz Ahmad)

  1. Ijaz like every other good muslim wholeheartedly believes and relies upon the so called Mutawatir principal as the core foundation in proving the authenticity of Quran. Mutawatir simply means oral tradition that are narrated by such a large number of people in a manner that all the narrators are unanimous in reporting it with the same words without any substantial discrepancy, while as opposite Ahad tradition is oral tradition which is narrated by people whose number does not reach that of the Mutawatir case.

    If being observed only on its surface, one might get an impression of reliable structured and firm system which proves the authenticity of Quran however when being dig deeper we will find flaws in this principal along with its implementation which prove Quran’s defects.

    1) Contrary to Ijaz’s claim and general belief of uninformed muslim that Quran is transmitted in ‘mutawatir manner’ from Muhammad himself, in reality this belief is highly debatable among muslim scholars themselves and even totally refuted.

    Here are excerpts of an article by Dr. Shehzad Saleem from Al-Mawrid Foundation(a scholarly Sunni institute) and while the article itself is about defending islam surprisingly i think Dr.Shehzad is quite honestly open in this particular matter where he admits Quranic transmission from the prophet is to be identified as AHAD transmission rather than MUTAWATIR citing also the well-known and respected medieval sunni scholar Imam az-Zarkashi (745H) in support to his assertion

    Quote [… There exists a consensus of opinion among the scholars of our ummah on the fact that the Qur’an is mutawatir (ie such a large number of people have transmitted the Qur’an that the existence of any error in the transmitted text is impossible). Now, if the chains of narrators of these variant readings are examined, NONE OF THEM CAN BE CLAIMED AS MUTAWATIR . They may be mutawatir from their famous originators but THEY ARE CERTAINLY NOT MUTAWATIR ALL THE WAY FROM THIS ORIGINATORS UP TO THE PROPHET(sws). AT BEST, THEY CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS AHAD (ISOLATE REPORTS)….] Continue

    Quote [ …Thus Zarkashi writes:
    أحدها أن القراءات السبع متواترة عند الجمهور’ وقيل مشهورة… والتحقيق أنها متواترة عن الأئمة السبعة ‘ أمَّا تواترها عن النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم ففيه نظر فإنّ إسنَاد الأئمة السبعة بهذه القراءات موجود في كتب القراءات ‘ وهي نقل الواحد عن الواحد لم تكمل شروط التواتر في استواء الطرقين والواسطة : وهذا شىء موجود فى كتبهم’.

    The OPINION of the majority is that these readings are mutawatir. However, one opinion is that they are mashhur[11]…. The truth in this regard is that they are mutawatir from these seven [qurr’a]. As far as their TAWATUR FROM THE PROPHET (sws) is concerned, THIS IS DEBATABLE. For the chain of narrators of these seven are found in the books of qira’at. These chains are transmission from a SINGLE PERSON to another and DO NOT FULFILL THE CONDITION OF TAWATUR neither from the first narrator to the last nor in between. ]

    Full article can be read at http://www.al-mawrid.org/index.php/articles/view/fifty-common-misconceptions-about-islam-i

    Just for the record Dr.Shehzad is not in full agreement with the medieval sunni scholar Imam az-Zarkhasi because Dr.Shehzad has stated in another of his article he personally believes that from the seven regarded to be MUTAWATIR Qiraats and their 14 branches only Hafs version which is the branch of Qiraat Aasim is the only Tawatur one from the prophet, hence the others ARE NOT MUTAWATIR . He concludes this on the basis that Hafs version is the only one that was written in Uthmanic mushaf.

    Next here’s statement from another respected medieval sunni scholar Imam Jalaludin al-Suyuthi (849H) , ” Consequently, WHATEVER PART OF THE QURAN HAS BEEN TRANSMITTED THROUGH THE AHAD (ISOLATE REPORTS) and is NOT MUTAWATIR is UNQUESTIONABLY NOT THE QURAN BY ANY MEANS” (Suyuti, Itqan Fi ‘Ulumi’l-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1, [Baydar: Manshurat al-Radi, 1343 AH], p. 266).

    Therefore now when we pair the two statements of Sunni Islam’s two respected scholars Imam az-Zarkashi and Imam al-Suyuthi about how ALL known Qiraat/readings of Quran are AHAD since they don’t fulfill the requirement for being mutawatir from prophet Muhammad (az-Zarkashi) and how whatever part of Quran which is not mutawatir , IS UNQUESTIONABLY NOT THE QURAN BY ANY MEANS (al-Suyuthi) then the final conclusion is surely ALL PRESENT QIRAATS / QURANIC READINGS ARE NOT VALID / NOT AUTHENTIC.

  2. 2) Ijaz claims there’s no reasonable evidence to assure us that present Gospel is as authentic as what Jesus had.

    Let me turn the tables on muslim especially regarding Quran Hafs version

    Hafs version is Quranic reading which being used by around 90%-95% of the entire muslim world, and Hafs version is claimed to be authentic and mutawatir up to the prophet himself especially since all preserved ancient manuscripts available ( (the Topkapi, Samarqand, etc) )that presumably derives from uthman are all written in Hafs version. However careful observation will show precisely the total opposite where as the matter of fact Hafs version is factually the most unreliable version compared with other versions such as Warsh, Hamzah, al-Kisai etc. Here’s why:

    a. Thanks to Dr.Jay Smith recent finding in exposing discrepancies and defects in the available ancient uthmani quran manuscripts (which all written in Hafs by the way), where he based his finding on the OBJECTIVE opinion of two Turkish muslim scholars who analyzed those manuscripts and concluded those manuscripts are NOT COMPATIBLE EACH OTHER not to mention contain LOT OF ERRORS and INCOMPLETE. This means there are no ancient manuscripts could testify that this ‘present’ Hafs version is 100% compatible with uthmanic Quran let alone to say it’s compatible with the prophet’s quran.

    b. If the written manuscripts weren’t reliable anymore still muslim would point out to the supposedly trusted mutawatir oral tradition as proof , however as being explained previously from Dr.Shehzad’s article citing Imam az-Zarkashi, there’s no possible way to define all 7 Qiraats with their 14 branches(including Hafs) to be Tawatur from the prophet , because without exception they are all AHAD transmission if being linked to the prophet and only regarded as tawatur when being linked to Companions.

    c. Not only all 7 Qiraats with their 14 branches are Ahad transmission when being linked to the prophet but in case of Hafs version particularly, it is NOT a TAWATUR branch of Qiraat Aasim because unlike Qiraat Aasim which is transmitted in mutawatir manner when being linked to the Companions since it’s transmitted down from several persons, yet in contrary factually Hafs version is transmitted SOLELY and only from Qiraat Imam Aasim meaning Hafs version is certainly Ahad / NOT MUTAWATIR. Because muslims in majority like to claim themselves to hold this mutawatir principal where any Ahad transmission of Quranic reading would be disqualified therefore their inconsistency for not rightly applying this principal toward the Hafs version is appalling.

    d. Even worse, with regard to the Rawis or Narrators , Hafs version has the worst narrators ever , compared with other versions of Quranic reading since if any hadith ever has any Rawi/Narrator with the same classification grade as the narrators of Hafs version then according to Ulum’ul Hadith (theological science of hadith) this hadith would be surely defined as DA’IF /WEAK. These unreliable rawis/narrators of Hafs version surprisingly are Imam Hafs himself whom Hafs version originates from, and also Imam Aasim himself whom Qiraat Aasim originates from.

    I recall how over confidently Ijaz said in this video on not to trust right away upon someone just because this someone is claiming to be a witness

    Again let me turn the tables on muslim regarding trustworthiness of a WITNESS / NARRATOR

    For Imam Hafs whose complete name is Hafs Ibn Sulayman here again Dr.Shehzad Saleem from Sunni website al-Mawrid.org, within the same article which i previously have already provided with internet link above, questions Imam Hafs reliability as narrator based on opinions of the majority of sunni scholars.

    Quote
    [ Not only are these readings isolate reports (ahad), but also many of the narrators of these readings are not regarded as trustworthy by the scholars of ‘ilm al-rijal as far as accepting Ahadith from them is concerned. As an example, this is what is written about Hafs Ibn Sulayman, perhaps the most famous and most widely acclaimed of all the disciples of the major qurra’:
    ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Hatim says that he is matruk al-hadith. Nasa’i says that he is not trustworthy. In the opinion of Yahya Ibn Mu’in as quoted by Abu Qudamah Sarakhsi and ‘Uthman Ibn Sa’id he is not trustworthy. ‘Ali Ibn Madini says: he is weak in matters of Hadith and I have forsaken him voluntarily. Abu Zur’ah also says that he is weak in matters of Hadith ….. S~alih Muhammad al-Baghdadi says the Ahadith narrated by him are not worth writing and all of them mention unfamiliar things in religion. Zakariyyah Ibn Yahya al-Saji narrates from Sammak and ‘Alqamah Ibn Marthad and Qays Ibn Muslim that his Ahadith are not reliable. ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Hatim says that he asked his father about Hafs. His father said that his Ahadith are not even worth writing. He is weak in matters of Hadith, cannot be attested to and his Ahadith are not acceptable. ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Yusuf says that he is a great liar, worthy of being forsaken and forges Ahadith.[13]
    It seems quite strange that a person so widely regarded as unreliable (even called a liar) in accepting Hadith from be regarded as a very dependable person as far the Qur’an is concerned . ]

    Regarding Imam Hafs status as an acknowledged LIAR by majority of sunni scholars , it’s just unthinkable for anyone with healthy mind and full conscience for willingly WANNA PUT THEIR TRUST ON A LIAR.

    Now, this is how Imam Aasim is identified by majority of muslim scholars , cited from Shia islamic website http://www.yamahdi.com/?p=106

    Quotation [ Imam Ahmad says that he (Aasim) is a pious man, reciter of the Holy Quran, a good and honest person. However, A’amash has a better memory. (Here he is suggesting Aasim has a poor memory). In Ajali’s words, opinions about Aasim differ, that is he was considered weak (narrator). Mohammed ibne Saeed says Aasim was honest, yet he often made mistakes. Abdur Rehman ibne Abi Khatim says, “I told my father, Aasim is called to be reliable. My father commented, ‘He (Asim) is not of that calibre (of being reliable).’” Ibne Haaliyah has discredited him and has stated, Aasim is of weak memory. Abu Hatim remarks, “According to me he is on the level of truthfulness (i.e. he is truthful), and is a good traditionalist (i.e. his traditions are acceptable), but is not a memoriser of traditions. Nesai has another opinion about him. Abu Jafar Aquili avers: Only he had poor memory. Darqutni opines, “His (Asim’s) memory was weak”. Yahya Al Qataan declares, “I have observed the person (the narrators) called Aasim who has poor memory. I have heard Sheba say, that Asim b. Abi Bakhud narrated a tradition for us, although people did not have a good opinion about him.” (Muqaddamah, 2/159¬16a) ]

    Although this is Shia website however all persons this site is quoting from are Sunnis and it’s widely acknowledged among Sunni scholars the status of Imam Aasim to be an honest person yet with weak memorization.

    Muslim usually try to dismiss these two narrators weaknesses by saying they are ‘proven’ to be unreliable in the field of transmitting and narrating hadith however in the field of narrating Quran they are perfect and faultless, because this is just simply matter of performing good in one field and not good in another field. Obviously this explanation is just another absurd excuse, because in the case of Imam Aasim the problem is with his weak memory which means whatever thing he memorizes whether hadith or quran would most likely has defects while in the case of Imam Hafs it’s not about ‘expertise’ but rather ‘character’ in which he was acknowledged as a deceitful and manipulative person , reasonably person with this kind of character surely can not and should not be trusted no matter how good he is. Sadly muslim has no choice but to trust unreservedly upon the ‘presumably authentic’ Quran which is being transmitted from Imam Hafs ‘the Liar’ (sic).

  3. Sorry bro, If i may add i think using Wescott as reference to criticize Quran would not be a strong ‘tool’ in debating Ijaz nor any muslim debaters. Though it’s hard to find such muslim scholar who’s willing to study Quran through the lens of science of Textual Criticism however here’s one good book i recommend to you, authored by Dr.Shady Hekmat Nasser titled ‘The Transmission of the Variant Readings of the Qur’ān:The Problem of Tawātur and the Emergence of Shawādhdh ‘ , now about the author’s background; Dr. Nasser is a devout Sunni muslim and he holds PhD both in Arabic Literature and Islamic Studies from Harvard University and formerly worked as Senior Lecture on Arabic at Yale University.

    Though from Christian textual criticism’s perspective what Dr.Nassed had delivered is not as ‘strong’ as christian theologians in ‘dissecting’ the bible however it’s quite an optimum piece of work and among the best in my opinion if being considered from islamic perspective. He dares enough to raise scholarly reasonable question and criticism in ‘doubting’ the famous MUTAWATIR method while in the same time seemingly also trying to maintain his faith as Sunni muslim.

    I recommend you to study thoroughly and carefully this book, it’s quite a huge ‘ammo’ for apologist like you in against muslims.

    Regards

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