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Criticism of Islam

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Criticism of Islam, including of Islamic beliefs, practices, and doctrines, can take many forms, including academic critiques, political criticism, religious criticism, and personal opinions.

Criticism of Islam has been present since its formative stages, with early disapprovals recorded from Christians, Jews, and some former Muslims like Ibn al-Rawandi.[1] Subsequently, the Muslim world itself faced criticism after the September 11 attacks.[2][3][4][5]

Criticism has been aimed at the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, in both his public and personal lives.[4][6] Issues relating to the authenticity and morality of the scriptures of Islam, both the Quran and the hadiths, are also discussed by critics.[7] Criticisms have also been directed at historical practices, like the recognition of slavery as an institution[8][9][10][11] as well as Arab imperialism impacting indigenous cultures.[12] The Shafi'i school of thought has been criticized for its support for female genital mutilation. More recently, Islamic beliefs regarding human origins, predestination, God's existence, and God's nature have received criticism for their apparent philosophical and scientific inconsistencies.[13][14]

Other criticisms center on the treatment of individuals within modern Muslim-majority countries, including issues related to human rights in the Islamic world, particularly in relation to the application of Islamic law.[5] As of 2014, about a quarter of the world's countries and territories (26%) had anti-blasphemy and (13%) had anti-apostasy laws or policies.[15] In 2017, 13 Muslim countries had the death penalty for apostasy or blasphemy.[16][17][18] Amid the contemporary embrace of multiculturalism, there has been criticism regarding how Islam may affect the willingness or ability of Muslim immigrants to assimilate in host nations.[19][20]

Historical background[edit]

The earliest surviving written criticisms of Islam are found in the writings of Christians, such as John of Damascus who was familiar with Islam and Arabic, who came under the early dominion of the Islamic caliphate.[21] Other notable early critics of Islam included Abu Isa al-Warraq, a ninth-century scholar and critic of Islam, Ibn al-Rawandi, a ninth-century atheist, who repudiated Islam and criticized religion in general,[22]: 224  al-Ma'arri, an eleventh-century Arab poet and critic of all religions who was known for his veganism and antinatalism[23][24][25][26] Jews similarly passed on criticism on Muhammad by oral-traditions.[27]

There have been several notable critics and skeptics of Islam from within the Islamic world, including the blind poet al-Ma'arri, whose poetry was known for its "pervasive pessimism." He labeled religions in general as "noxious weeds" and believed that Islam does not have a monopoly on truth.[2][28] In 1280 CE, the Jewish philosopher Ibn Kammuna criticized Islam in his book Examination of the Three Faiths.[29][30]

During the Middle Ages, Christian church officials commonly represented Islam as idolatry or a counterfeit religion propelled by Satan. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe, some academics attempted to exoticize Islam by portraying it as an Eastern religion that was distinct from the West and the religions of Judaism and Christianity. Others classified it as a "Semitic" religion, in contrast to the Indo-European religions, which included Christianity. Many academics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries referred to Islam as Mohammedanism,[31] which allowed them to criticize Islam by criticizing Muhammad's actions. Such criticisms rendered Islam as only a derivative of Christianity and not, as Islam itself claims, as the successor of Abrahamic monotheisms, in contrast to the Christian idea of Christ's perfection.[32] By contrast, many academics nowadays study Islam as an Abrahamic religion in relation to Judaism and Christianity.[31]

Points of criticism[edit]

The expansion of Islam[edit]

In an alleged dialogue between the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos (r. 1391–1425) and a Persian scholar, the emperor criticized Islam as a faith spread by the sword.[33] This matches the common view in Europe during the Enlightenment period about Islam, then synonymous with the Ottoman Empire, as a bloody, ruthless, and intolerant religion.[34] More recently, in 2006, a similar statement of Manuel II,[a] quoted publicly by Pope Benedict XVI, prompted a negative response from Muslim figures who viewed the remarks as an insulting mischaracterization of Islam.[35][36] In this vein, the Indian social reformer Pandit Lekh Ram (d. 1897) thought that Islam was grown through violence and desire for wealth,[37] while the Nigerian author Wole Soyinka considers Islam as a "superstition" that it is mainly spread with violence and force.[38]

This "conquest by the sword" thesis is opposed by some historians who consider the transregional development of Islam a multi-faceted and complex phenomenon.[31] The first wave of expansion, the migration of the early Muslims to Medina to escape persecution in Mecca and the subsequent conversion of Medina, was indeed peaceful. In the years to come, Muslims defended themselves against frequent Meccan incursions until Mecca's peaceful surrender in 630. By the time of his death in 632, many of the Arabian tribes had formed political alliances with Muhammad and adopted Islam peacefully, which also paved the way for the subsequent conquests of Syria, Iran, Egypt and (the rest of North Africa) after the death of Muhammad.[31] Islam nevertheless often remained a minority religion in conquered territories for several centuries after the initial waves of conquest, indicating that the conquest of territories beyond the Arabian Peninsula did not instantly result in large conversions to Islam.[b][31]

Other religions' views[edit]

Many early Christian authors viewed Islam as a Christian heresy or a form of idolatry and often explained it in apocalyptic terms.[39] They criticized Islam as a material, rather than spiritual, religion for its sensual descriptions of paradise, even though such descriptions were present in early Christianity, as seen in the writings of Irenaeus, a second-century bishop. The Bible also implies such ideas, such as drinking wine in the Gospel of Matthew. Later, however, the doctrines of the Catholic theologian Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) led to the broad repudiation of bodily pleasures in this life and the afterlife.[40]

Pope Innocent III (d. 1216) thought that many men were seduced by Muhammad for the pleasure of flesh.[40] The Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton criticized Islam as a heresy or parody of Christianity,[41][42] David Hume (d. 1776), both a naturalist and a sceptic,[43] considered monotheistic religions to be more "comfortable to sound reason" than polytheism but also found Islam to be more "ruthless" than Christianity.[44] The Greek Orthodox bishop Paul of Antioch accepted Muhammed as a prophet, but did not consider his mission to be universal and regarded Christian law superior to Islamic law.[45] In his book, The Fountain of Wisdom, John of Damascus (d. 749) claims that Muhammad was influenced by an Arian monk. He also viewed Islamic doctrines as nothing more than a hodgepodge culled from the Bible.[21] Maimonides, a twelfth-century rabbi, did not question the strict monotheism of Islam, but was critical of the practical politics of Muslim regimes and considered Islamic ethics and politics to be inferior to their Jewish counterparts.[46] Apologetic writings, attributed to the philosopher Abd-Allah ibn al-Muqaffa (d.c. 756), not only defended Manichaeism against Islam, but also criticized the Islamic concept of God. He disregarded the Quranic deity as an unjust, tyrannic, irrational and malevolent demonic entity.[47][48] The Jewish philosopher Ibn Kammuna (d. 1284) reasoned that the Sharia was incompatible with the principles of justice, and that this undercut the notion of Muhammad being the perfect man, "There is no proof that Muhammad attained perfection and the ability to perfect others, as claimed."[29][49]

In his essay Islam Through Western Eyes, the cultural critic Edward Said suggests that the Western view of Islam is particularly hostile for a range of religious, psychological and political reasons, all deriving from a sense "that so far as the West is concerned, Islam represents not only a formidable competitor but also a late-coming challenge to Christianity." In his view, the general basis of Orientalist thought forms a study structure in which Islam is placed in an inferior position as an object of study, thus forming a considerable bias in Orientalist writings as a consequence of the scholars' cultural make-up.[50]


Criticism of the Quran[edit]

12th-century Andalusian Quran

In the lifetime of Muhammad, the Quran was primarily preserved orally and the written compilation of the whole Quran in its current form took place some 150 to 300 years later, according to some sources.[51][52][53] Alternatively, others believe that the Quran was compiled shortly after the death of Muhammad in 632 and canonized by end of the caliphate of Uthman (r. 644–656).[54][55][56] The idea that Quran is perfect and impossible to imitate as asserted in the Quran itself is disputed by critics.[57] One such criticism is that sentences about God in the Quran are sometimes followed immediately by those in which God is the speaker.[58] A legend, likely developed in the tenth century,[59] claims that Muhammad was taught and influenced by a Jewish teacher.[58] The modern historian John Wansbrough believes that the Quran is in part a redaction of other sacred scriptures, in particular the Judaeo-Christian scriptures.[60][61] The Christian theologian Philip Schaff (d. 1893) praises the Quran for its poetic beauty, religious fervor, and wise counsel, but considers this mixed with "absurdities, bombast, unmeaning images, and low sensuality."[62] The Iranian journalist Ali Dashti (d. 1982) criticized the Quran, saying that "the speaker cannot have been God" in certain passages.[63] Similarly, the secular author Ibn Warraq gives Surah al-Fatiha as an example of a passage which is "clearly addressed to God, in the form of a prayer."[63] Ibn Mas'ud, a companion of Muhammad, thought that al-Fatiha and two other small surahs were not part of the Quran but were the words of Muhammad.[63] The orientalist Gerd Puin believes that the Quran contains many verses which are incomprehensible, a view rejected by Muslims and many other orientalists.[64] Some divine rulings in the Quran are also contradictory, although this is explained by the Quran itself as abrogation, "God doth blot out / Or confirm what He pleaseth."[64] According to some early historical accounts, Muhammad was temporarily tricked by Satan into reciting two verses in praise of the idols instead of the two Quranic verses 53:19–20.[65][66] One argument for the fabrication of this story is that his fight against idolatry was consistently the defining mission of Muhammad's prophetic career. Had he publicly praised the idols, as the story goes, to the point of winning the support of the Meccan pagan elite, his erstwhile bitter enemies, he would have certainly lost his credibility and followers.[67] Apology of al-Kindy, a medieval polemical work, describes the narratives in the Quran as "all jumbled together and intermingled," and regards this as "evidence that many different hands have been at work therein."[68]

Pre-existing sources[edit]

Critics see the reliance of Quran on various pre-existing sources as evidence for a human origin.

Critics point to various pre-existing sources to argue against the traditional narrative of revelation from God. Some scholars have calculated that one third of the Quran has pre-Islamic Christian origins.[69] Aside from the Bible, the Quran relies on several Apocryphal and legendary sources, like the Protoevangelium of James,[70] Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew,[70] and several infancy gospels.[71] Several narratives rely on Jewish Midrash Tanhuma legends, like the narrative of Cain learning to bury the body of Abel in Quran 5:31.[72][73] Norman Geisler argues that the dependence of the Quran on preexisting sources is one evidence of a purely human origin.[74] Richard Carrier regards this reliance on pre-Islamic Christian sources as evidence that Islam derived from a Torah-observant sect of Christianity.[75]

Criticism of the Hadith[edit]

It has been suggested that there exists around the Hadith (Muslim traditions relating to the Sunnah (words and deeds) of Muhammad) three major sources of corruption: political conflicts, sectarian prejudice, and the desire to translate the underlying meaning, rather than the original words verbatim.[76]

Muslim critics of the hadith, Quranists, reject the authority of hadith on theological grounds, pointing to verses in the Quran itself: "Nothing have We omitted from the Book",[77] declaring that all necessary instruction can be found within the Quran, without reference to the Hadith. They claim that following the Hadith has led to people straying from the original purpose of God's revelation to Muhammad, adherence to the Quran alone.[78] Ghulam Ahmed Pervez was among these critics and was denounced by thousand orthodox clerics as a 'kafir', a non-believer.[79] In his work Maqam-e Hadith he considered any hadith that goes against the teachings of Quran to have been falsely attributed to the Prophet.[80] Kassim Ahmad in his "Hadith: A Re-evaluation" suggested that "the hadith are sectarian, anti-science, anti-reason and anti-women."[81][82]

According to John Esposito "Modern Western scholarship has seriously questioned the historicity and authenticity of the hadith", and that Joseph Schacht "found no evidence of legal traditions before 722," from which Schacht concluded that "the Sunna of the Prophet is not the words and deeds of the Prophet, but apocryphal material" dating from later.[83] Other scholars, however, such as Wilferd Madelung, have argued that "wholesale rejection as late fiction is unjustified".[84] Orthodox Muslims do not deny the existence of false hadith, but believe that through the scholars' work, these false hadith have been largely eliminated.[85]

Lack of secondary evidence[edit]

Sana'a manuscripts of the Quran

The traditional view of Islam has also been criticised for the lack of supporting evidence consistent with that view, such as the lack of archaeological evidence, and discrepancies with non-Muslim literary sources.[86] In the 1970s, what has been described as a "wave of sceptical scholars" challenged a great deal of the received wisdom in Islamic studies.[87]: 23  They argued that the Islamic historical tradition had been greatly corrupted in transmission. They tried to correct or reconstruct the early history of Islam from other, presumably more reliable, sources such as coins, inscriptions, and non-Islamic sources. The oldest of this group was John Wansbrough.[87]: 38  Gerd R. Puin, investigating Sana'a manuscripts, noted unconventional verse orderings, minor textual variations, and rare styles of orthography and suggested that some of the parchments were palimpsests which had been reused. Puin believed that this implied a text that changed over time as opposed to one that remained the same.[64]

Criticism of Muhammad[edit]

The Christian missionary Sigismund Koelle and the former Muslim Ibn Warraq have criticized Muhammad's actions as immoral.[4][6] In one instance, the Jewish poet Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf provoked the Meccan tribe of Quraysh to fight Muslims and wrote erotic poetry about their women,[88] and was apparently plotting to assassinate Muhammad.[89] Muhammad called upon his followers to kill Ka'b,[88] and he was consequently assassinated by Muhammad ibn Maslama, an early Muslim.[90] Such criticisms were countered by the Islamicist William M. Watt, who argues on the basis of moral relativism that Muhammad should be judged by the standards and norms of his own time and geography, rather than ours.[91] The Scottish philosopher David Hume (d. 1776) describes the Quran as an "absurd performance" of a "pretended prophet" who lacked "a just sentiment of morals."[92] The fourteenth-century epic poem Divine Comedy by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri contains defamatory images of Muhammad, picturing him the eighth circle of hell, along with his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.[93][94] Dante does not blame Islam as a whole but accuses Muhammad of schism for establishing another religion after Christianity.[93] Some medieval ecclesiastical writers portrayed Muhammad as possessed by Satan, a "precursor of the Antichrist" or the Antichrist himself.[4] In the same vein, Tultusceptru de libro domni Metobii, an Andalusian manuscript of unknown origins, describes how Muhammad (called Ozim, from Hashim) was tricked by Satan into adulterating an originally pure divine revelation: God was concerned about the spiritual fate of the Arabs and wanted to correct their deviation from the faith. He then sent an angel to the Christian monk Osius who ordered him to preach to the Arabs. Osius, however, was in ill-health and instead ordered a young monk, Ozim, to carry out the angel's orders. Ozim set out to follow his orders, but was stopped by an evil angel on the way. The ignorant Ozim believed him to be the same angel that had spoken to Osius before. The evil angel modified and corrupted the original message given to Ozim by Osius, and renamed Ozim Muhammad. From this followed the erroneous teachings of Islam, according to Tultusceptru.[95] According to the Christian monk Bede (d. 735), Muhammad was foretold in verse 16:12 of the Genesis, as the one whose hand is against all and all hands are against him.[96]

Islamic ethics[edit]

9th-century Quran in Reza Abbasi Museum

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, while there is much to be admired and affirmed in Islamic ethics, its originality or superiority is rejected.[97] Critics stated that the Quran 4:34 allows Muslim men to discipline their wives by striking them.[98] There is however evidence from Islamic hadiths and scholars such as Ibn Kathir that demonstrates that only a twig or leaf can be used by a man to "strike" their wife and this is not allowed to cause pain or injure their wife but to show their frustration.[99] Moreover, confusion amongst translations of Quran with the original Arabic term "wadribuhunna" being translated as "to go away from them",[100] "beat",[101] "strike lightly" and "separate".[102] The film Submission critiqued this and similar verses of the Quran by displaying them painted on the bodies of abused Muslim women.[103] Some critics argue that the Quran is incompatible with other religious scriptures as it attacks and advocates hate against people of other religions.[7][104][105][106] Sam Harris interprets certain verses of the Quran as sanctioning military action against unbelievers as it said "Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled."(Quran 9:29)[107] However, the Islamic hadiths and scholars such as Dr Zakir Naik refer to fighting and not to trust "non-believers" and Christians in certain situations or events such as during times of war.[108] Jizya is a tax for "protection" paid by non-Muslims to a Muslim ruler, for the exemption from military service for non-Muslims, and for the permission to practice a non-Muslim faith with some communal autonomy in a Muslim state.[109][110][111] Harris argues that Muslim extremism is simply a consequence of taking the Quran literally, and is skeptical that moderate Islam is possible.[c][127] Max I. Dimont interprets that the Houris described in the Quran are specifically dedicated to "male pleasure".[128] According to Pakistani Islamic scholar Maulana Umar Ahmed Usmani "Hur" or "hurun" is the plural of both "ahwaro" which is a masculine form and also "haurao" which is a feminine, meaning both pure males and pure females. Basically, the word 'hurun' means white, he says.[129] Henry Martyn claims that the concept of the Houris was chosen to satisfy Muhammad's followers.[130]

Views on slavery[edit]

13th-century slave market in Yemen

According to Bernard Lewis, the Islamic injunctions against the enslavement of Muslims led to massive importation of slaves from the outside.[131] Also Patrick Manning believes that Islam seems to have done more to protect and expand slavery than the reverse.[132] Brockopp, on the other hand believe that the idea of using alms for the manumission of slaves appears to be unique to the Quran ([Quran 2:177] and [Quran 9:60]). Similarly, the practice of freeing slaves in atonement for certain sins appears to be introduced by the Quran (but compare Exod 21:26-7).[133] Also the forced prostitution of female slaves, a Near Eastern custom of great antiquity, is condemned in the Quran.[134] According to Brockopp "the placement of slaves in the same category as other weak members of society who deserve protection is unknown outside the Qur'an.[133] Some slaves had high social status in the Muslim world, such as the Mamluk enslaved mercenaries,[135] who were assigned high-ranking military and administrative duties by the ruling Arab and Ottoman dynasties.[136]

Critics argue unlike Western societies there have been no anti-slavery movements in Muslim societies,[137] which according to Gordon was due to the fact that it was deeply anchored in Islamic law, thus there was no ideological challenge ever mounted against slavery.[138] According to sociologist Rodney Stark, "the fundamental problem facing Muslim theologians vis-à-vis the morality of slavery" is that Muhammad himself engaged in activities such as purchasing, selling, and owning slaves, and that his followers saw him as the perfect example to emulate. Stark contrasts Islam with Christianity, writing that Christian theologians wouldn't have been able to "work their way around the biblical acceptance of slavery" if Jesus had owned slaves, as Muhammad did.[139]

Only in the early 20th century did slavery gradually became outlawed and suppressed in Muslim lands, with Muslim-majority Mauritania being the last country in the world to formally abolish slavery in 1981.[8] Murray Gordon characterizes Muhammad's approach to slavery as reformist rather than revolutionary that abolish slavery, but rather improved the conditions of slaves by urging his followers to treat their slaves humanely and free them as a way of expiating one's sins.[140] In Islamic jurisprudence, slavery was theoretically an exceptional condition under the dictum The basic principle is liberty.[141][9] Reports from Sudan and Somalia showing practice of slavery is in border areas as a result of continuing war[142] and not Islamic belief. In recent years, except for some conservative Salafi Islamic scholars,[d] most Muslim scholars found the practice "inconsistent with Qur'anic morality".[147][148][149]


"Execution of a Moroccan Jewess (Sol Hachuel)", a painting by Alfred Dehodencq

In Islam, apostasy along with heresy and blasphemy (verbal insult to religion) is considered a form of disbelief. The Qur'an states that apostasy would bring punishment in the Afterlife, but takes a relatively lenient view of apostasy in this life (Q 9:74; 2:109).[150] While Shafi'i interprets verse Quran 2:217[151] as adducing the main evidence for the death penalty in Quran, the historian W. Heffening states that Quran threatens apostates with punishment in the next world only.,[152] the historian Wael Hallaq states the later addition of death penalty "reflects a later reality and does not stand in accord with the deeds of the Prophet."[153] According to Islamic law, apostasy is identified by a list of actions such as conversion to another religion, denying the existence of God, rejecting the prophets, mocking God or the prophets, idol worship, rejecting the sharia, or permitting behavior that is forbidden by the sharia, such as adultery or the eating of forbidden foods or drinking of alcoholic beverages.[154][155][150] The majority of Muslim scholars hold to the traditional view that apostasy is punishable by death or imprisonment until repentance, at least for adults of sound mind.[156][157][158] Also Sunni and Shi'a scholars, agree on the difference of punishment between male and female.[159]

Some widely held interpretations of Islam are inconsistent with Human Rights conventions that recognize the right to change religion.[160] In particular article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[161] Some contemporary Islamic jurists, such as Hussein-Ali Montazeri[162] have argued or issued fatwas that state that either the changing of religion is not punishable or is only punishable under restricted circumstances.[163] According to Yohanan Friedmann, "The real predicament facing modern Muslims with liberal convictions is not the existence of stern laws against apostasy in medieval Muslim books of law, but rather the fact that accusations of apostasy and demands to punish it are heard time and again from radical elements in the contemporary Islamic world."[164]

Sadakat Kadri noted that "state officials could not punish an unmanifested belief even if they wanted to".[165] The kind of apostasy which the jurists generally deemed punishable was of the political kind, although there were considerable legal differences of opinion on this matter.[166] Wael Hallaq states that "[in] a culture whose lynchpin is religion, religious principles and religious morality, apostasy is in some way equivalent to high treason in the modern nation-state".[167] Also Bernard Lewis consider the apostasy as a treason and "a withdrawal, a denial of allegiance as well as of religious belief and loyalty".[168] The English historian C. E. Bosworth suggests the traditional view of apostasy hampered the development of Islamic learning, like philosophy and natural science, "out of fear that these could evolve into potential toe-holds for kufr, those people who reject God."[169] While in 13 Muslim-majority countries atheism is punishable by death,[170] according to legal historian Sadakat Kadri, executions were rare because "it was widely believed" that any accused apostate "who repented by articulating the shahada" (LA ILAHA ILLALLAH "There is no God but God") "had to be forgiven" and their punishment delayed until after Judgement Day.[171][172] William Montgomery Watt states that "In Islamic teaching, such penalties may have been suitable for the age in which Muhammad lived."[173]

Islam and violence[edit]

The September 11 attacks led to debate on whether Islam promotes violence.

Quran's teachings on matters of war and peace have become topics of heated discussion in recent years. On the one hand, some critics claim that certain verses of the Quran sanction military action against unbelievers as a whole both during the lifetime of Muhammad and after.[107] The Quran says, "...cast terror in their hearts and strike upon their necks." (8:12)[174] Also that "Fight in the name of your religion with those who fight against you."[107] Jihad, an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims meaning "striving for the sake of God".[175][176][177] [178][179] It is perceived in a military sense (not spiritual sense) by Bernard Lewis[180][181] and David Cook.[182] Also Fawzy Abdelmalek[183] and Dennis Prager argue against Islam being a religion of peace and not of violence.[184] John R. Neuman, a scholar on religion, describes Islam as "a perfect anti-religion" and "the antithesis of Buddhism".[185] Lawrence Wright argued that role of Wahhabi literature in Saudi schools contributing suspicion and hate violence against non-Muslims as non-believers or infidels and anyone who "disagrees with Wahhabism is either an infidel or a deviant, who should repent or be killed."[186]

Most Muslim scholars, on the other hand, argue that such verses of the Quran are interpreted out of context,[187][188] and argue that when the verses are read in context it clearly appears that the Quran prohibits aggression,[189][190][191] and allows fighting only in self-defense.[192][193] Charles Mathewes characterizes the peace verses as saying that "if others want peace, you can accept them as peaceful even if they are not Muslim." As an example, Mathewes cites the second sura, which commands believers not to transgress limits in warfare: "fight in God's cause against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits [in aggression]; God does not love transgressors" (2:190).[194]

Orientalist David Margoliouth described the Battle of Khaybar as the "stage at which Islam became a menace to the whole world".[195] In the battle reportedly Muslims beheaded Jews.[196][197] Margoliouth argues that the Jews of Khaybar had done nothing to harm Muhammad or his followers, and ascribes the attack to a desire for plunder[195][198] Montgomery Watt on the other hand, believes Jews' intriguing and use of their wealth to incite tribes against Muhammad left him no choice but to attack.[199] Vaglieri and Shibli Numani concur that one reason for attack was that the Jews of Khaybar were responsible for the Confederates that attacked Muslims during the Battle of the Trench.[200][201]

The September 11 attacks have resulted in many non-Muslims' indictment of Islam as a violent religion.[202] In the European view, Islam lacked divine authority and regarded the sword as the route to heaven.[34]

Karen Armstrong, tracing what she believes to be the West's long history of hostility toward Islam, finds in Muhammad's teachings a theology of peace and tolerance. Armstrong holds that the "holy war" urged by the Quran alludes to each Muslim's duty to fight for a just, decent society.[203] According to Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the 20th-century Indian independence movement, although non-violence is dominant in the Qur'an, thirteen hundred years of imperialist expansion have made Muslims a militant body.[204][205][206]

Other self-described Muslim organisations have emerged more recently, and some of them have been associated with jihadist and extreme Islamist groups. Compared to the entire Muslim community, these groups are sparsely populated. They have, however, received more attention from governments, international organisations, and the international media than other Muslim groups. This is as a result of their participation in actions intended to combat alleged enemies of Islam both at home and abroad.[31]

Years later however, Al-Qaeda has yet to succeed in gaining the support of the majority of Muslims and continues to differ from other Islamist organizations in terms of both philosophy and strategy.[31]



In 10 Muslim-majority countries homosexual acts may be punishable by death, though in some the punishment has never been carried out.[207] The ex-Muslim Ibn Warraq states that the Quran's condemnation of homosexuality has frequently been ignored in practice, and that Islamic countries were much more tolerant of homosexuality than Christian ones until fairly recently.[208]

Short-term marriage[edit]

Nikāḥ al-Mutʿah is a fixed-term or short-term contractual marriage in Shia Islam. The duration of this type of marriage is fixed at its inception and is then automatically dissolved upon completion of its term. For this reason, nikah mut'ah has been widely criticised as the religious cover and legalization of prostitution.[209][210] Shi'a and Sunnis agree that Mut'ah was legal in early times, but Sunnis consider that it was abrogated.[211] Currently, however, mut'ah is one of the distinctive features of Ja'fari jurisprudence.[212] Sunnis believe that Muhammad later abolished this type of marriage at several different large events,Bukhari 059.527 Most Sunnis believe that Umar later was merely enforcing a prohibition that was established during Muhammad's time.[213]

Shia contest the criticism that nikah mut'ah is a cover for prostitution, and argue that the unique legal nature of temporary marriage distinguishes Mut'ah ideologically from prostitution.[214][215] Children born of temporary marriages are considered legitimate, and have equal status in law with their siblings born of permanent marriages, and do inherit from both parents. Women must observe a period of celibacy (idda) to allow for the identification of a child's legitimate father, and a woman can only be married to one person at a time, be it temporary or permanent. Some Shia scholars also view Mut'ah as a means of eradicating prostitution from society.[216]

Contractually limited marriage[edit]

Nikah Misyar is a type of Nikah (marriage) in Sunni Islam only carried out through the normal contractual procedure, with the provision that the husband and wife give up several rights by their own free will, such as living together, equal division of nights between wives in cases of polygamy, the wife's rights to housing, and maintenance money ("nafaqa"), and the husband's right of homekeeping and access.[217] Essentially the couple continue to live separately from each other, as before their contract, and see each other to fulfil their needs in a legally permissible (halal) manner when they please. Misyar has been suggested by some western authors to be a comparable marriage with Nikah mut'ah and that they find it for the sole purpose of "sexual gratification in a licit manner"[218][219][220] Islamic scholars like Ibn Uthaimeen or Al-Albani claim that misyar marriage may be legal, but not moral.[221]

Age of Muhammad's wife Aisha[edit]

According to Sunni hadith sources, Aisha was six or seven years old when she was married to Muhammad and nine when the marriage was consummated.[222][223][224][225] The Muslim historian al-Tabari (d. 923) reports that she was ten,[223] while Ibn Sa'd (d. 845) and Ibn Khallikan (d. 1282), two other Muslim historians, write that she was nine years old at marriage and twelve at consummation.[226] Muhammad Ali (d. 1951), a modern Muslim author, argues that a new interpretation of the Hadith compiled by Mishkat al-Masabih, Wali-ud-Din Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Khatib, could indicate that Aisha would have been nineteen.[227] Similarly, on the basis of a hadith about her age difference with her sister Asma, some have estimated Aisha's age to have been eighteen or nineteen at the time of her marriage.[228][229][230][231] At any rate, Muhammad's marriage to Aisha may have not been considered improper by his contemporaries, for such marriages between an older man and a young girl were common among the Bedouins.[232] In particular, Karen Armstrong, an author on comparative religion, writes, "There was no impropriety in Muhammad's marriage to Aisha. Marriages conducted in absentia to seal an alliance were often contracted at this time between adults and minors who were even younger than Aisha."[233]

Women in Islam[edit]

The meaning of Quran 4:34 has been the subject of intense debate among experts. While many scholars[234][235] claim Shari'a law encourages domestic violence against women,[236][237][238] many Muslim scholars arguing that it acts as a deterrent against domestic violence motivated by rage.[239][240] Shari'a is the basis for personal status laws such as rights of women in matters of marriage, divorce and child custody which was described as discriminatory against women from a human rights perspective in a 2011 UNICEF report.[241] Allowing girls under 18 to marry by religious courts is another criticism of Islam[242] Sharia grants women the right to inherit property[243] but a daughter's inheritance is usually half that of her brother's but that is because the brother needs to care of his family and her sister if a male guardian isn't present and take care of her needs.[Quran 4:11][244] Furthermore, slave women were not granted the same legal rights.[245][246][247][248] Under classical Islamic law, Muslim men could have sexual relations with female captives and slaves without their consent.[249][250] The master is subject to several limitations nevertheless; for example, he is not permitted to cohabitate with a female slave who belongs to his wife or engage in romantic contact with a female slave who is a joint owner or who is already married.[8] On 14 January 2009, the Catholic Portuguese cardinal José Policarpo directed a warning to young women to "think twice" before marrying Muslim men.[251][252]

In contrast to the widespread Western belief that women in Muslim societies are oppressed and denied opportunities to realize their full potential, many Muslims believe their faith to be liberating or fair to women, and some find it offensive that Westerners criticize it without fully understanding the historical and contemporary realities of Muslim women's lives. Conservative Muslims in particular (in common with some Christians and Jews) see women in the West as being economically exploited for their labor, sexually abused, and commodified through the media's fixation on the female body.[253]

Islam and multiculturalism[edit]

French philosopher Pascal Bruckner has criticised the effects of multiculturalism and Islam in the West.

Muslim immigration to Western countries has led some critics to label Islam incompatible with secular Western society.[254][255] This criticism has been partly influenced by a stance against multiculturalism closely linked to the heritage of New Philosophers. Recent critics include the Pascal Bruckner[256][257][258][259] and Paul Cliteur.[260] Tatar Tengrist criticize Islam as a semitic religion, which forced Turks to submission to an alien culture. Further, since Islam mentions semitic history as if it were the history of all mankind, but disregards components of other cultures and spirituality, the international approach of Islam is seen as a threat.[261] Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, described Islam as the religion of the Arabs that loosened the national nexus of Turkish nation, got national excitement numb.[262]

In the early 20th century, the prevailing view among Europeans was that Islam was the root cause of Arab "backwardness". They saw Islam as an obstacle to assimilation, a view that was expressed by one of the spokesmen of colonial French Algeria named André Servier.[263] The Victorian orientalist scholar Sir William Muir criticised Islam for what he perceived to be an inflexible nature, which he held responsible for stifling progress and impeding social advancement in Muslim countries.[264]

Jocelyne Cesari, in her study of discrimination against Muslims in Europe,[265] finds that anti-Islamic sentiment may be difficult to separate from other drivers of discrimination because Muslims are mainly from immigrant backgrounds and the largest group of immigrants in many Western European countries, xenophobia overlaps with Islamophobia, and a person may have one, the other, or both.[266]

List of critics[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," he said.
  2. ^ Scholarly research suggests that there was an inverse relationship between where Muslim political power centres were and where the most conversions occurred, which was on the political periphery.[31] According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, conquest was just one of several elements that helped Islam spread throughout the world. The systematisation of Islamic tradition, trade, interfaith marriage, political patronage, urbanisation, and the pursuit of knowledge must also be acknowledged. Along trade routes and even in the most isolated regions, Sufis contributed to the spread of Islam. The yearly hajj to Mecca, which brought together scholars, mystics, businesspeople, and regular believers from various nations, should be particularly noted as a contributing factor. Despite taking on more contemporary forms, these factors are still in force today. The expansion of Islam into western Europe, the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand has been facilitated by them.[31]
  3. ^ Various calls to arms were identified in the Quran by US citizen Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, all of which were cited as "most relevant to my actions on March 3, 2006" (Q9:44,[112] 9:19,[113] 57:10–11,[114] 8:72–73,[115] 9:120,[116] 3:167–75,[117] 4:66,[118] 4:104,[119] 9:81,[120] 9:93–94,[121] 9:100,[122] 16:110,[123] 61:11–12,[124] 47:35).[125][126]
  4. ^ In a 2014 issue of their digital magazine Dabiq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant explicitly claimed religious justification for enslaving Yazidi women.[143][144][145][146]


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Saeed, Abu Hayyan, Orientalism., Murder of History.. Facts behind the Gossips and Realities. (October 20, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4608350 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4608350


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]