Saturday, 10 October 2009

Muslim Debate and Rhetoric

In all my years engaging in muslim apologetics and debating I have noticed a certain three-fold trend in the way many (though not all) Muslims interact with Christians in dialogue, namely the habits of 1) asking questions or making strong claims followed by an 2) unwillingness to either allow the Christian to respond or let the Christian speak but not listen to his answer, followed by 3) changing the topic by bringing up another claim.

Anyone who engages with Muslims is aware of this islamic tactic of debating and the difficulty it poses to sincere and effective dialogue.

For example (and this in fact occurred in the recent talkshow on the Aramaic channel hosted by Sam Shamoun and David Wood) a Muslim brought up the claim that the prophet of Deuteronomy 18 is similar to Muhammad in action, deed and circumstances (a ridicolous claim and easily refuted). In fact the argument originally derived from the famous Islamic apologist Ahmed Deedat and provides details of such ignorant and non-scholarly nature, that most theologians find anyone promoting it a laughinstock.

This was effectively dealt with by both Shamoun and Wood in approximately 5-7 minutes. Shamoun took a scholarly approach, left out the imagination and stupitity and dealt with the passage in its historical context. The refutation totally blew the islamic use of the passage into pieces.

I was mildly speaking in shock, so was Shamoun and I guess must viewers when realising that this muslim who phoned the show had not even bother listening to the answer from Shamoun and merely began reiterating the same details.

However, this example establishes but one of the most difficult issues related to Christian-Muslim debating: why does the Muslim blindly presuppose that his view is correct which gives him the superior right to keep talking and not listening?

Personally I am more aware of this presupposed islamic superiority and choice to downplay the opponent as simply inferior, when I spend time with my Christian Pakistani friends and co-workers. These Christian brothers of mine were born and raised up in a country in which they were considered inferior and second class citizens merely due to their Christian faith. What strikes me is that it was enforced upon them to listen and listen and learn and certainly not to speak up. In words, this is the Muslim trend of dealing with e.g. Christian in a Muslim society.

This is why Muslims in UK and USA when engaging with Christians in dialogue find it difficult to engage in a proper, lengthy and focused debate, they simply do not believe in listening and learning from a non-muslim, neiter dare they. This is why dialogue with a muslim begins with any topic and quickly ends up with a topic on the other side of the spectrum; they simply do not want your answer, hence, neither can they respond to it, so the easiest way is to change the topic.

Interestingly when these Christians from muslim countries settle in England or the West, this changes drastically. These Christians who have had no choice but to remain silent and humbly listen, have decided to turn the tables, now it is their turn to get vocal and it is the Muslim who has to listen, which is logical.

And it works.

We quickly notice here the effectiveness of these Christians to debate Muslims, refute and expose them since they for the first time in their entire life have the chance and freedom to speak, rather than the approach of Western Christians simply to give in for the Muslim tactic in allowing them to control the dialouge and conversation; those who grew up in Muslim countries and first hand experienced the suppression will not buy that.

My encouragement to my Christian brothers and sisters is: be bold, speak out, stand up for the truth, learn to debate. Be firm: do not listen unless the Muslim himself is willing to listen, and speak only if he is willing to listen. Get yourself used to not only to be on the defence and answer the typical rhetorical question of muslims, get used to ask the questions, demand that the muslim answers your question and make sure he stays on the topic.

Go for it, God bless

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A response and challenge to those who oppose the Christian faith.