“Those who believe and do the few good deeds expected of them, will have their Lord guide them because of their faith…”
A common claim by Christian missionaries is that Islam is a ‘works’ based religion (i.e. you try to ‘earn’ your way into Heaven by doing good deeds). This comes purely from ignorance of Islam’s teachings and is part of the propaganda to promote “Christianity as the ‘only’ religion that is based on faith to get into Heaven and therefore it’s the truth because of this unique belief”. In this article we will explore this argument and see if this is true.
Islam is also based on faith –
To begin, let’s first refute the claim that Islam believes a person can earn his/her way to Heaven. What’s good for us is we have several narrations that directly relate to this topic:
“A man in the past worshipped Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) continuously for 500 years. He was granted a shelter on top of a mountain that was surrounded by salty water. However, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) caused a stream of sweet water to flow through the mountain for that individual. The man would drink from this water and use it to make ablution. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) also raised a pomegranate tree from which the man would eat one fruit every day.
One day, this person supplicated to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) that, “Oh Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), bring my death while I am in the state of prostration.” Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) accepted this dua of his. Whenever Jibreel (عليه السلام) came down to the Earth, he found this man prostrating to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى). Jibreel (عليه السلام) said that on the day of Judgement, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) will tell the angels to take this individual to Paradise through His mercy. However, this man will insist that he should enter paradise through the good deeds that he had performed.
Then, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) will tell the angels to compare his good deeds with the blessings that were given to him in the world. It will be seen that 500 years of his worship does not even equal to the gift of eye sight that was given to him by Allah (سبحانه وتعالى). The angels will be asked to take him toward the hell fire. Then the man will plead, “Oh Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)! Enter me into Paradise only through Your mercy.” At that point, the following discussion will take place between Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and that man.
Allah (سبحانه وتعالى): Oh my servant, who created you?
The worshipper: Oh Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), You have created me.
Allah (سبحانه وتعالى): Were you created because of the good deeds you have done or because of My mercy?
The worshipper: Because of Your mercy.
Allah (سبحانه وتعالى): Who granted you the ability to worship for 500 years?
The worshipper: Oh the Almighty! You have granted me that ability.
Allah (سبحانه وتعالى): Who placed you on the mountain surrounded by the ocean? Who caused a stream of sweet water to flow in between the salty water? Who caused a pomegranate tree to grow for you? Who granted you death while in the state of prostration?
The worshipper: Oh the Sustainer of the Worlds! You have done all of these.
Then Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) will say, “All these have happened due to My mercy and you too will enter Paradise only through My Mercy.”
As can be seen, this alone is enough to refute the claim, but let’s explore a few more narrations:
“Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: None amongst you can get into Paradise by virtue of his deeds alone. They said: Allah’s Messenger, not even you? Thereupon he said: Not even I, but that Allah should wrap me in His Grace and Mercy.”
“Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Indeed Allah will distinguish a man from my Ummah before all of creation on the Day of Judgement. Ninety-nine scrolls will be laid out for him, each scroll is as far as the eye can see, then He will say: ‘Do you deny any of this? Have those who recorded this wronged you?’ He will say: ‘No, O Lord!’ He will say: Do you have an excuse?’ He will say: ‘No, O Lord!’ So He will say: ‘Rather you have a good deed with us, so you shall not be wronged today.” Then He will bring out a card (Bitaqah); on it will be: “I testify to La Ilaha Illallah, and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.” He will say: ‘Bring your scales.’ He will say: ‘O Lord! What good is this card next to these scrolls?’ He will say: ‘You shall not be wronged.’ He said: ‘The scrolls will be put on a pan (of the scale), and the card on (the other) pan: the scrolls will be light, and the card will be heavy, nothing is heavier than the Name of Allah.’”
So yes, Islam teaches that believers should do good deeds, but Muslims do not believe that we can use them as some bargaining chip with God on the Day of Judgment, because the reality is nothing we do is enough to show the proper thanks to God for all the blessings He has and continues to bestow on us. Paradise is awarded only because of God’s mercy and love. However, just because we are saved by His mercy and love does NOT mean we go around acting self-righteous, and stop doing good or performing voluntary acts to get closer to God.
What the above narrations are discussing is not to not feel entitled to a reward as a result of our actions. In fact, God tells us in the Quran that it was because of Him that we were guided and it is because of Him that we were able to perform the good in the first place. Therefore, our reliance should be solely on Him. In Surah Al-Araf, God describes the people’s situation in Heaven:
“I will pull out all secret ill feelings from their chest; underneath their feet streams will flow and they will say: “All the praise and thanks belongs to God, who guided us to this! Had God not guided us, we would never have found the way! The Messengers of our Lord really did come with the Truth…” A voice will announce to them: “This is the Garden you have inherited because of all the work you used to do.”
Notice that the people in Heaven are not bragging about their good deeds, but rather praising God for guiding them. God out of His appreciation for their faith and doing good gave them the gift of Paradise:
“So whoever does good deeds and is a believer, their efforts will not be ignored, I am recording them for them.”
“There they will hear no vain or lying talk. A reward from your Lord, a fitting gift.”
The question may arise: so why do good? To put it simply, we do good deeds as an expression of faith. Actions are a reflection of what is in our heart. For example, I can say I love somebody but if I beat them every day, it is seriously suspect if I truly love them. We do not do good to obtain some righteous standard that admits us into Heaven. Worship in Islam is done solely to please God. We perform our acts of worship because we were commanded to do them:
“It was narrated that ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Adhere to righteousness even though you will not be able to do all acts of virtue…’”
Now it is true that none of us are infallible and that we all sin. Where we differ from Christians in viewing sin is that God knew we were going to sin when He created us. What sin allows us to do is repent and come back to God seeking His mercy and forgiveness, which is something God absolutely loves:
“Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) having said: ‘By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.’”
To further prove that the act of worship is simply a by-product of faith, we must remember that in Islam, for the good deed to be accepted by God, there are two things that have to be there:
The proper intention.
It is done in accordance with what God has legislated.
If either of these are missing, God rejects the act of worship. So if we were doing mindless deeds, such as mindlessly rushing through prayer or helping someone only so that they will hurry up, thinking that we would still receive the reward, this is not the case.
So to sum everything up:
Islam is based on faith, not works.
Doing good is a by-product of having faith.
Don’t listen to people who have no idea what they’re talking about.
Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls – Response to the Chick Tract “The Prophet”, Part II
“To such as Allah rejects from His guidance, there can be no guide: He will leave them in their trespasses, wandering in distraction.”
– The Quran, Surah Al-A’raf, 7:186
This article is a continuation of the response to the Chick tract “The Prophet”. In Part I, we provided a summary of the tract. Part II will begin the analysis of the conspiracy theory posited by Alberto Rivera, whereas Part III will be a continuation of the analysis and will look at other issues in the tract.
Analysis of “The Prophet”
Let us now proceed to fact-check the conspiracy theory posited by Alberto Rivera and promoted by Jack Chick, namely that the Vatican started Islam with the goal of conquering Jerusalem. But before we get into the details of the theory, let us discuss the man Alberto Rivera and his background. Who was he? Was he trustworthy? What was his true background? After discussing Rivera’s background, we will dissect his conspiratorial claims and expose the errors, shoddy logic and outright lies. In this part, we will analyze Rivera’s shady background, and then look at the laundry list of historical errors that he made in his diatribe.
Alberto Rivera’s Background –
Many people have researched Rivera’s background, and what they have found is a life of lies, cheating and criminal behavior. In fact, Rivera was first exposed as a result of an investigation by a non-Catholic Christian named Gary Metz. In one article on Rivera’s shady and criminal past, Metz wrote:
“[o]ur intensive investigation reveals his police record, his investment schemes, his bad check-writing, his contradictory testimony, his fabricated educational record, and his reported family abuse…”
Rivera was linked to at least three criminal actions, for which warrants were issued for his arrest. According to Gary Metz’s investigation:
“In 1965, a warrant for his arrest was issued in Hoboken, New Jersey, for writing bad checks. He also left debts in excess of $3,000.”
“In 1969 two warrants were issued against him in DeLand and Ormond Beach, Florida. The first was for the theft of a Bank-Americard. […] The second warrant was for the ‘unauthorized use of an automobile.’ Alberto abandoned the vehicle in Seattle, Washington.”
Furthermore, according to author Gary D. Cearley, Rivere was also accused of defrauding a Spanish charity and for “swindling over $2000 related to church property”.
In addition to his criminal behavior, it was revealed that his status as “Dr.” Rivera was also fraudulent. In his investigational report, Metz stated that:
“Alberto commands great respect from many with his alleged numerous degrees including an N.D., a D.D., a Th.D., a Ph.D., and a master’s in psychology. However, he is ambiguous when asked where he received these degrees.”
Why was Rivera so “ambiguous” about where he received such respectable degrees? As it turns out, the reason is quite simple: he never earned such degrees! According to Metz (emphasis ours):
“Rev. Plutarco Bonilla (a respected Christian leader in Central America), said that Alberto never finished high school in Las Palmas and that he was in the seminary program for non-high school graduates. The school in a letter said they were forced to expel Alberto for his ‘continual lying and defiance of seminary authority.’ The known chronology of his life does not allow time for him to have achieved the academic status he claims. When Rev. Wishart [former associate of Alberto, and once a pastor of the First Baptist Church of San Fernando] pressed Alberto concerning his degrees, Alberto admitted receiving them from a diploma mill in Colorado.”
There are also contradictions in Rivera’s epic story of leaving the Vatican and converting to Protestantism. According to Metz:
“Alberto’s account of his conversion is contradictory. In 1964 while working for the Christian Reformed Church, he said he was converted from Catholicism in July of 1952. Now he maintains it was in 1967 . . . 3:00 in the morning on March 20, 1967. He says he immediately defected from the Catholic Church. However, five months later, in August of 1967, he was still promoting Catholicism and the ecumenical movement in a newspaper interview in his hometown of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.”
Given Rivera’s life of dishonesty and cheating, on what basis was his “testimony” reliable? Moreover, if he was such a “Godly” man who considered the Bible the “final authority”, why didn’t he follow the Bible’s commands on establishing every matter “by the testimony of two or three witnesses”? Isn’t it rather convenient that he seemed to be the only one privy to such groundbreaking “secret” information as the Vatican creating Islam?
Rivera’s Historical Errors –
Let us now look at the laundry list of historical errors Rivera made in his ludicrous conspiracy theory, in the order they are mentioned in the tract.
The Roman Catholic Church in the 3rd century CE –
Rivera claimed that the Church was already well established and powerful institution by the end of the 3rd century and desperately wanted to control Jerusalem because of its religious and strategic importance. But historians point out that the Church was not very powerful in the 3rd century. In fact, at this time, Christianity had not yet achieved its status as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Edict of Milan (313 CE) made Christianity a legal religion, but it was not until the late 4th century that Christianity became Rome’s official religion. If Catholics were not even legally recognized by Rome in the 3rd century, how was the Vatican already hoping to control Jerusalem by controlling and influencing the Arab population? And even if it was, how would it even have the power to do so? In some cases, the Church was not even able to hold any property, as in the case of the reign of Marcellinus, who was the pontiff from 296-304 CE. At the end of his reign, the Church’s property was confiscated by Rome and Marcellinus was said to have been martyred. It seems far-fetched to claim that such a weak institution was already making plans to use the vast power it did not have to secretly influence entire nations to do its bidding.
2. The “great untapped source of manpower” of the Arabs in North Africa –
Rivera claimed that the Vatican had developed a “scheme” to use the Arabs to conquer Jerusalem for the pope. Besides the obvious far-fetched nature of such a “scheme”, historical reality makes it illogical and utterly ridiculous. The fact is that at the time, the Arabs were mostly nomads, as Rivera stated, but they were mostly confined to the Arabian Peninsula, and not in North Africa. As Cearley states:
“…most of the Arabs were simple Bedouins or were settled in the Hejaz or in Felix Arabia. Even the Bedouins who moved around were fairly confined to the Arabian Peninsula…”
So not only were these Arabs just simple nomads living in a harsh, desert environment, they were also geographically confined to Arabia. Thus, to suggest that the Vatican had seen some military potential in the Arabs in the 3rd century is ludicrous. As Cearley states:
“[t]hese Bedouins are least likely to have been the people to take up a religious mantle against Christians, as per the reported conspiracy.”
Nor had these Arabs been converted to Roman Catholicism. Most were actually pagans and worshipped different deities. As the late British orientalist Bernard Lewis stated:
“[t]he religion of the nomads was a form of polydaemonism related to the paganism of the ancient Semites. The beings it adored were in origin the inhabitants and patrons of single places, living in trees, fountains, and especially sacred stones.”
Even those Arabs that had converted to Christianity actually formed a distinct church, different from the Catholic Church. Most Arabs who converted to Christianity were part of the “Syriac Church”, which was regarded as a “heresy” by the Catholic Church (see Historical Error #6 for more). According to the “Syriac Archdiocese for the Eastern United States”:
“[w]hen the Byzantine empire adopted the resolutions of the council of Chalcedon in 451, they began to oppress those who rejected these resolutions – first and foremost the members of the Syrian church. The church fathers and the believers had to endure various agonies like bans, killings and incarceration. Many of them, both clergy and laity, gained martyrdom.”
The Council of Chalcedon (451 CE) was called to refute the “heresy” of the “Monophysites”. According to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”:
“[t]he Monophysites affirmed that the human nature had ceased to exist as such in Christ when the divine person of God’s Son assumed it. Faced with this heresy, the fourth ecumenical council, at Chalcedon in 451, confessed:
Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; “like us in all things but sin”. He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division or separation. The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis.”
3. The headquarters of the Church was “Vaticanus”, one of the “7 hills” of Rome –
It does not take much effort to refute this claim. As Cearley points out:
“[t]he Vatican is not even on the same side of the Tiber River as the Seven Hills of Rome.”
Indeed, the Vatican is situated in the western side of the Tiber River, as shown in the map below, so it is on the opposite side as the actual “seven hills of Rome”:
Not only that, but “Mons Vaticanus” was not even a part of the city of Rome until the 9th century! Thus, Rivera’s attempt to associate the Vatican with the “Seven Hills of Rome” falls flat.
River also claimed that “Vaticanus” was the site of the temple of Janus. Janus was an Italian god who was worshipped by the Romans. However, “Vaticanus” was not the site of a temple dedicated to Janus. As a matter of fact, it was the site of a temple dedicated to Mithra, a Persian deity known to the Romans as Mithras, whose cult was assimilated into the Roman Empire. The temple of Janus, on the other hand, was actually located within Rome itself.
4. The “offspring of Ishmael total almost one billion souls” –
This is a laughable mistake by “Dr.” Rivera, but it is one that has been repeated in Chick tracts. There is a repeated conflation between Arabs and Muslims. But an educated person would know that not all Arabs are necessarily Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs. It seems Rivera confused the total global population of the Muslimworld, which in the 1980s was close to 1 billion (it is now close to 2 billion, alhamdulillah), and the population of the Arab world. In the 1980s, the Arab population was around 200 million. As of 2016, the population is estimated at more than 400 million, still nowhere close to the “1 billion” figure given by Rivera.
5. Augustine was the “bishop of Roman Africa” –
Another silly mistake that Rivera made was to claim that Augustine, the famous church father, was the “bishop of Roman Africa”. In reality, there was no “bishop of Roman Africa”. Rather, each city had a bishop, such as the bishop of Alexandria. Augustine was the “bishop of Hippo Regius”, a Roman town known in modern times as “Annabas” (or “Annaba”) in Algeria. This is why he was known as “Augustine of Hippo”.
Equally absurd is Rivera’s contention that Augustine’s two main works, “The City of God” and “Confessions”, had “greatly affected” the Arab world. First, he claimed that the Arabs were unaware of this insidious influence, but how could that be if Augustine had converted many Arab tribes to Catholicism? Wouldn’t Catholic Arabs be familiar with Augustine’s books? Regardless, the chances of Augustine’s teachings having any influence on Arabs are virtually zero. The main reason is geography. As Cearley succinctly puts it:
“Rivera also ignores the very important fact that the distance between Hippo and Mecca is approximately the same as the distance from modern day Ankara, Turkey, to London. And virtually all of the way being difficult desert.”
6. Bahira, Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), Waraqah and the Negus of Abyssinia were all “Roman Catholics” –
A key part of Rivera’s conspiracy is that the Catholic Church had various “spies” and “agents” who were all part of the grand conspiracy. In that regard, he maintained that key figures in the history of early Islam were in fact Catholics. These key figures were Bahirah, Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), her cousin Waraqah ibn Naufal and the Negus of Abyssinia, who provided a safe haven for Muslim refugees fleeing persecution from the Meccan pagans.
Let us start with Bahira. Rivera simply identified the monk as a “Roman Catholic”, but offered no proof. In reality, Bahira (or “Sergius”; see endnote #24) was most likely a follower of the Nestorian sect of Christianity, which was branded as a “heresy” by the Catholic Church. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” states:
“[t]he Nestorian heresy regarded Christ as a human person joined to the divine person of God’s Son. Opposing this heresy, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the third ecumenical council, at Ephesus in 431, confessed “that the Word, uniting to himself in his person the flesh animated by a rational soul, became man.”
However, John of Damascus, who is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church, described Bahira (without naming him) as an “Arian monk”.
So since it is established that Bahira/Sergius was most likely a Nestorian or an Arian, then his alleged status as an “agent” of the Catholic Church is refuted.
But what about Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) and Waraqah? The claim that Khadija was a Catholic widow has already been dealt with in the article on the Chick tract “Men of Peace”:
“[a]ll of the Islamic sources agree that Waraqah was a convert to Christianity, but none of them say the same for Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) or even hint that she was a Christian.”
Even non-Muslim scholars failed to detect Khadija’s alleged “Catholic” background. As Watt stated:
“…soon after the first revelation, [Muhammad] is said to have been encouraged to believe in his vocation by his wife Khadija, and more particularly, by her cousin Waraqah. The latter had become a Christian and was reputed to be familiar with the Bible.”
Notice that Waraqah is described as a convert to Christianity, but nothing is said about Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her)! So, in light of all the scholarly evidence, what reason is there to believe Rivera’s unproven conspiracy theory? The only “evidence” he provided was his alleged “secret” briefings with Cardinal Bea, which of course he was the only witness to and which cannot be independently verified! Also, given Rivera’s proclivity to lie and cheat, as shown above, no reasonable person would have any reason to believe his ridiculous conspiracy theory.
But there is another reason why the Catholic connection to Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) fails. Rivera claimed that she lived in a convent, which is where she was given her “strange assignment” to find a man who the Vatican could use to “create a new religion”. Archaeological evidence makes this impossible. As Cearley states:
“…even though there have been monastic ruins found in the Persian Gulf area of the Arabian Peninsula, there have been no ruins of monasteries or convents in the Hejaz region where Khadijah lived and worked.”
Finally, Cearley makes an excellent point which completely demolishes the claim that Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) was “a faithful follower of the pope”. It is well-known that she did not die a Christian (even though it is more than likely that she was never a Christian anyway), because she was the first person to convert to Islam. But why would she do that if she was a follower of the pope? As Cearley remarks:
“I can only suppose Alberto and his apologists would answer that it was all an act. But it would be an act that makes no sense at all to a rational person who was at the same time a person of a faith that tells her that she would be risking eternal damnation for such acts.”
Regarding Waraqah, it is well-known that he was a convert to Christianity. But which Christianity did he join? As usual, Rivera claimed without proof that Waraqah was also a Catholic. But yet again, the evidence discounts this claim. Archaeologist Peter Hellyer states:
“It would be unlikely, I think, that he [Waraqah] would have been Roman Catholic, since the dominant sector of the Church in Arabia was either Nestorian or Jacobite…”
So, most likely, Waraqah was not a Catholic. Even if he was, Rivera’s next claim about Waraqah can be logically refuted. He claimed that Waraqah helped Muhammad (peace be upon him) “interpret” the revelations he received, and that the Vatican had strategically placed him as his “advisor”. Chick even illustrates Waraqah proclaiming to the Arabs at the Kaaba that Muhammad was a prophet to his people! But this is laughable at best! It is well-known that Waraqah actually died shortly after he was told of Muhammad’s first encounter with Gabriel (peace be upon him) in the cave of Hira. This is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari:
“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) asked, “Will these people drive me out?” Waraqa said, “Yes, for nobody brought the like of what you have brought, but was treated with hostility. If I were to remain alive till your day (when you start preaching), then I would support you strongly.” But a short while later Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was paused (stopped) for a while so that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was very much grieved.”
So how could Waraqa have “interpreted” the revelations and been Muhammad’s “advisor” if he died shortly after the first revelation was made? He did not survive to “interpret” anymore revelations!
Finally, Rivera also claimed that the Negus of Abyssinia was…yes…a Roman Catholic. Again, no evidence was provided. Historical evidence, however, once again discounts this theory. In reality, the Negus would not have been a Catholic because Abyssinia was dominated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE. The Encyclopedia Britannica states:
“The Ethiopian church followed the Coptic (Egyptian) church (now called the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria) in rejecting the Christological decision issued by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 ce that the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ were equally present in one person without commingling. Opposed to this dyophysitism, or two-nature doctrine, the Coptic and Ethiopian churches held that the human and divine natures were equally present through the mystery of the Incarnation within a single nature. This position—called miaphysitism, or single-nature doctrine—was interpreted by the Roman and Greek churches as a heresy called monophysitism, the belief that Christ had only one nature, which was divine.”
Further proof for this can be seen by the fact that, in modern times, Ethiopia has a very small Catholic minority (0.9% as of 2012), whereas the Orthodox Church is followed by around 43% of the population, as seen the pie chart below:
In short, the Negus could not have been a Catholic because his country was aligned with the “heretical” Orthodox Church. Once again, history refutes Rivera’s conspiracy theory!
7. Muhammad’s “attacks on caravans” and “hostility” to Jews –
This polemic has also been discussed previously in the article on the Chick tract “Men of Peace?” Here is a brief summary regarding the “raids” on caravans:
“…there were seven attempted “raids” on the Quraish caravans, only one of which ended in some light fighting, some casualties and spoils being taken. Where is the evidence of “robbing” caravans or “killing the merchants”? Thus far, over a course about 2 years, only one so-called “merchant” had been killed! In some cases, peaceful resolutions were reached to avoid any fighting, as in the Saif-ul Bahr mission, whereas in others, treaties were signed between the Muslims and previously hostile tribes, as in the case of the Al-Abwa/Waddan and Dhil-Ushairah missions.”
As for the “hostility” towards Jews, Rivera neglected to mention that when Muhammad (peace be upon him) first arrived in Yathrib, he actually made a peace treaty with the Jewish tribes. This was called the “Constitution (or Pact) of Medina”. Among its precepts was the following:
“The Jews of the B. ‘Auf are one community with the believers (the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and their persons except those who behave unjustly and sinfully, for they hurt but themselves and their families.”
So where is the “hostility” to Jews? If Muhammad (peace be upon him) had been “groomed” to hate the Jews, why was one of his first acts in Yathrib/Medina to make a peace treaty with them? As Rabbi Reuven Firestone says of the “Constitution of Medina”:
“[t]his formal document placed all the various kinship and religious groups into one community called the umma…”
Specifically concerning the Jews, Firestone states that:
“Jews were clearly included in the Pact of Medina at the very outset of Muhammad’s residence there and were thus afforded the same rights as other groups.”
As for the later “raids” against “Jewish settlements”, it has already been established that these were in response to hostile acts from the specific Jewish tribes themselves, and not from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). One such tribe was the Bani Nadir, which was expelled from Medina and allowed to settle in Khaibar, but their continued hostility prompted an attack on Khaibar itself. Here is a brief summary from the “Men of Peace?” article:
“The Bani Nadir had been previously expelled from Medina after their treachery against Muhammad (peace be upon him) had been exposed. Even after being expelled yet being allowed to keep their wealth as an act of mercy (rather than being killed), the Bani Nadir remained a threat to the Muslims, despite repeated attempts by Muhammad (peace be upon him) to settle their differences peacefully. As Al-Mubarakpuri explains:
‘The Jews of Khaibar, united by an ancient alliance with the Confederates, provoked Bani Quraizah to practice treachery, maintained contacts with Ghatafan and the Arabians and they even devised an attempt on the Prophet’s life. […] Envoys were repeatedly sent to them for peaceful settlement, but all in vain.’”
So we can see that the raid on Bani Nadir was preceded by attempts to make peace, but these overtures were rejected by the hostility of this particular Jewish tribe.
8. The “moon god” myth –
We have already dealt with this embarrassing low-point in the history Christian polemics against Islam in other articles. Thus, a short summary will be provided here. Regarding the Sabeans and their alleged “moon god”, as stated in the article on the Chick tract “Allah Had No Son”:
“[i]n contrast to Chick’s claim, what the “history” really proves is that the Sabeans actually worshipped a “sun god”, who was called “Ilmaqah” or “Almaqah”.”
Also, even Christian scholars refute the “moon god” nonsense. As the scholar Miroslav Volf states:
“I have simply dismissed this view. But then, I do not believe that this view requires a rebuttal. I know of no serious student of Islam who advocates it. And none of the arguments I have read in favor of it struck me as plausible, either historically or theologically.”
Even Christian apologist James White has commented that this polemic does have “any solid foundation” and that when Christians indulge in it, they always lose!
9. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was “groomed” by the Vatican –
Rivera claimed that the Vatican actually sent “teachers” to the young Muhammad (peace be upon him) to “groom” him. This must have happened after Waraqah died suddenly! Rivera also claimed that Muhammad (peace be upon him) “devoured” Augustine’s works! Needless to say, these claims are “baloney” (as James White would put it)!
The first problem is, once again, geography. The Catholic Church simply did not have a presence in the Arabian Peninsula. Moreover, as mentioned before, traversing the harsh desert to bring these “teachers” would have been a difficult task.
The second and most severe problem is that it is well-known that Muhammad (peace be upon him), like many Arabs in that time, could not read. There is virtually no debate on this matter! Compounding the problem is that, even if Muhammad (peace be upon him) was able to read, he would have had to know Latin, the language in which Augustine’s works were written. As Cearley explains:
“[e]ven if Mohammad could read he would have to have had knowledge of Latin to read and study the works of St. Augustine as there were no known Arabic translations in this day.”
Another problem is that after Augustine’s death, Hippo Regius and the surrounding areas fell under the control of the Vandals, who were followers of the Arian heresy and were extremely hostile to the Catholic Church. For this reason, Augustine’s works were only widely known in Europe and North Africa.
10. Muhammad’s “unpublished” works –
Rivera maintained that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had written the Quran, a claim that is universally denied by all serious scholars of Islam. But other than that, Rivera also claimed that there were other “unpublished” works which link Muhammad (peace be upon him) to the Vatican. Naturally, the conspiracy theorist had no actual proof, but rather only conjecture. He claimed that these works are currently in the hands of “high ranking holy men” called “Ayatollahs”. Apparently unaware that “Ayatollah” is a title only given to leaders of Shiite Islam, which only accounts for 20% of the Muslim world, Rivera made yet another blunder. The word literally means “Sign of God” and is reserved for Shiite scholars, not Sunni ones. Thus, it is inaccurate to say that these Ayatollahs are “high ranking holy men…of the Islamic faith”. Regardless, the fact remains that Rivera’s only proof, yet again, for this outrageous claim is his own testimony of what he allegedly heard at the “secret” briefings with Cardinal Bea.
11. Muhammad’s revelations were put in the Quran in 650 CE –
In addition to claiming that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had “written” some works that have remained “unpublished”, Rivera also claimed that his published revelations were eventually put into the Quran in the year 650 CE. That would mean that it was done during the reign of the third Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him). Rivera was obviously appealing to an oft-repeated, but ultimately baseless, claim that Uthman had been responsible for giving the Quran its final form. It is actually well-established that the Quran was already completed before the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and that Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) merely created a standardized text to avoid any future disagreements among Muslims. As we stated in the article “The History of the Bible and Quran: A Comparative Analysis of the Holy Texts”:
“During the reign of the third Caliph, Uthman Ibn Affan (may Allah be please with him), disputes arose among some new Muslim converts over the correct pronunciation of the Quran. […]
…Uthman appointed a committee to prepare a master copy of the Quran (using the compilation of Abu Bakr), which was then sent to the major centers of Islamic rule, along with reciters who would teach the people.”
In addition, a recent discovery has confirmed that the Quran was actually written down during the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The discovery of the “Birmingham Manuscript” has shown that the Quran was not written down in 650 CE, as Rivera claimed. Rather, it was written earlier than that. According to Syed Mostafa Azmayesh:
“…the parchment on which the text is written has been dated to the period between AD 568 and 645, which coincides with the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (570 to 632 AD).”
Based on this, scholars have concluded that:
“…the Qur’an manuscript is among the earliest written textual evidence of the Islamic holy book known to survive.”
See below for the manuscript, which contains parts of Surahs 18 to 20:
Compared to the oldest known manuscript of the New Testament, P52 (which has been dated by overzealous Christians as early as 125 CE, but actually the date is given as a range between 125-150 CE), the discovery of the “Birmingham Manuscript” is far more remarkable.
To make matters worse, compared to the “Birmingham Manuscript”, P52 is a very small fragment of the Gospel of John containing John 18:31:33 on the front and 18:37-38 on the back:
12. Muslim armies protected “Augustinian monks” and Catholics, but slaughtered Jews and “true” Christians –
One of the more egregious claims made by Rivera was that the Muslims had a deal with the pope to protect Catholics and their churches, but to kill Jews and “true” Christians. First, it is not clear what Rivera meant by “true” Christians. Who were they exactly? Were the Byzantines “true” Christians? Or the Copts? Or the Christians of the other Eastern churches? Regardless, the fact is that while there were certainly some immoral acts of violence by some of the Muslim troops, this was not the official policy of the Caliphs. We discussed this issue previously in the article refuting the Chick tract “Camel’s in the Tent”. As Professor Fred Donner explains:
“…the arrival of the Believers in many areas may have been accompanied by widespread- though short and superficial- plundering and raiding, of a kind that would have been observed and reported by some early sources (such as the sermons and homilies of Sophronius in the 630s), but that would also leave little archaeological record since major towns were not involved. The reason for this petty plundering was simple. Many of the Arabian tribesmen who joined the Believer’s movement during the ridda wars were probably very undisciplined.”
Even when major towns were involved, and this was rare, the extent of the damage would have been limited, as Donner explains:
“[i]t was only those cities and towns that refused to make terms that would have been subjected to siege, and these were few…But even in these cases we can expect the damage to have been limited, for the Believers’ goal was not to destroy these towns, but rather to bring their monotheistic populations under the rule of God’s law. It was not the monotheist populations against whom the Believers were waging war, after all, but the Byzantine and Sasanian regimes, which they saw as tolerating (or even imposing) sinfulness.”
So the claim of widespread violence and killing of Christians is certainly not historically accurate.
Equally ridiculous is the claim that Jews were also on the hit-list. As a matter of fact, Jews largely welcomed the Muslim army, since in comparison to the treatment meted out by the Christians, treatment under the Muslims was far better. It is an interesting fact of history that when the Byzantine Christians controlled Jerusalem, Jews were not allowed to settle in the holy city, a continuation of Roman policy. But when the Muslims arrived, Jews began to settle in Jerusalem for the first time in nearly 500 years (not including the brief period when the Persians occupied Jerusalem)! The proof for this is found in Jewish sources themselves. For example, the Encyclopedia Judaica states:
“…there is no doubt that during the Persian conquest (614–28) Jews lived in Jerusalem. It seems that even after the recapture of the city by Heraclius many of them remained in its vicinity. This may have caused Sophronius’ request that no Jews be allowed to stay in Jerusalem. […]
A document (in Judeo-Arabic) found in the Cairo *Genizah reveals that the Jews asked Omar for permission for 200 families to settle in the town. As the patriarch [Sophronius] opposed the action strongly, Omar fixed the number of the Jewish settlers at 70 families. The Jews were assigned the quarter southwest of the Temple area, where they lived from that time…”
In a separate entry about the Caliph Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), the Encyclopedia Judaica states:
“Omar permitted the Jews to reestablish their presence in Jerusalem–after a lapse of 500 years–and also seems to have allotted them a place for prayers on the Temple Mount (from which they were driven out at a later date). Jewish tradition regards Omar as a benevolent ruler and the Midrash (Nistarot de-Rav Shimon bar Yoḥai) refers to him as a “friend of Israel.””
Rabbi Reuven Firestone echoes this sentiment:
“[Umar] ended Christian rule over Jerusalem and allowed Jews to legally re-enter and live in the holy city for the first time since the failed Bar Kokhba rebellion in the 2nd century.”
If Rivera’s claim of mass killings of Jews at the behest of the Vatican was true, then why were Jews being allowed to settle in Jerusalem, which the Vatican wanted for itself? Clearly, Rivera was ignorant of history! Rather than persecuting and killing Jews, the historical evidence shows that the Muslims did the exact opposite. As Professor David Wasserstein succinctly puts it (emphasis ours):
“Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth.”
It is also interesting that Christian sources refer to the generally just treatment by the Muslims of Christians too, even those which were critical of Muslim government. Let us look at some of these Christian sources (which it will be noticed are not Catholic sources, and would have been hostile to the Vatican):
John of Nikiu (Coptic Christian) –
As the historian Hugh Kennedy states:
“John was no admirer of Muslim government and was fierce in his denunciation of what he saw as oppression and abuse, but he says of Amr [Ibn Al-As]: ‘He exacted the taxes which had been determined upon but he took none of the property of the churches, and he committed no act of spoliation or plunder, and he preserved them throughout all his days.”
Isho’yahb (Nestorian Christian) –
Isho’yahb was the leader of the Nestorian church from 649-659 CE. In a letter addressed to a man named Simeon, Isho’yahb mentions the generally just treatment the Muslims afforded to Nestorian Christians:
“[a]s for the Arabs…you know well how they act towards us. Not only do they not oppose Christianity, but they praise our faith, honour the priests and saints of our Lord, and give aid to the churches and monasteries.”
13. The pope issued “papal bulls” giving the Muslims “permission” to invade North Africa and “financed” the Muslim armies –
Rivera claimed that the Vatican gave “permission” to the Muslims to invade North Africa, and provided funding for such a massive campaign. As it happens, we do have a historical example of a Catholic pope who was accused of collaborating with the Muslims, but who was actually the victim of the many theological debates raging within Christendom at the time. Pope Martin I (reigned 649-655 CE) had risen to the papacy in a time of great theological controversies, as well as heightened tensions between the church and the emperor. Martin was a supporter of the Lateran Synod (649 CE), which condemned Monothelitism, a move which greatly angered the imperial authorities. As a result, he was arrested and tortured. This incident also shows the limit of the pope’s power in the 7th century, as his authority was clearly not as strong as Rivera claimed. If the pope was such a powerful and wealthy man, how was Martin I so easily arrested by Byzantine authorities on charges of collusion with the Arabs?
Indeed, historical facts refute the claim that the pope would have been able to finance the Muslim invasion of North Africa. As Cearley rightfully asks:
“…one still has to ask oneself how would a pope in Rome who lived in an era when the Christian churches were still in a period of development on so many levels be able to finance huge Arab armies to attack Christians and Jews?”
Even 400 years later, when the Crusades began, it was not the Church which financed this Christian holy war. Rather, the Crusades were financed by the Catholic kings. The pope simply did not command such wealth.
Regarding “papal bulls”, Cearley points out that these edicts from the pope obviously “are directed to an audience of believers” and have “no authority over non-Catholics”. In addition, the earliest papal bull that actually called for a war, called “Quantum Praedecessores”, was issued in 1145 CE. Before that, the pope never issued any such orders, let alone to a non-Catholic army.
But Rivera’s idiocy knew no bounds. He even claimed that the Muslims, while now calling the pope an “infidel”, nevertheless still asked him to give them permission to invade Europe as well! Based on the context of this part of the tract, it seems Rivera was referring to the time of the Crusades, which was more than 400 years later. Why were Muslims still asking for “papal bulls”? Indeed, Rivera’s chronology seems very confused. In one section of the tract, he was talking about the 7th century. Then the next part talks about the Crusades (11th century). But then the next section talks about the Muslim invasion of Spain, which brings us back to the 8th century!
Regarding the Muslim invasion of Spain, Cearley notes that:
“[t]here is no record that the Berbers and Ummayad Arabs who took the Iberian Peninsula consulted anyone but their own hierarchy in this effort or that they sent any ambassadors to Rome…”
Rivera also seemed to erroneously refer to Spain as a Catholic country. But in the 8th century, Spain was ruled by the Visigoths, who were actually Arian Christians and thus considered “heretics” by Rome. In fact, if the Muslims had asked the pope for “permission” or for support in invading Spain, one would think that he would have been delighted to help them crush his Arian enemies, instead of reacting with anger at such a proposal!
14. Under Waraqah’s direction, Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared that Ishmael (peace be upon him) was offered as Abraham’s sacrifice –
Rivera referred to this as “the great lie” (that Ishmael, rather than Isaac, was the sacrifice), and that it was Waraqah who told Muhammad (peace be upon him) to “write” this version in the Quran.
First, we have already refuted the claim that Waraqah was Muhammad’s teacher. In fact, it is well-known that Waraqah died shortly after the first revelation came to Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Second, it is also well-known that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was illiterate and thus could not have “written” the Quran. The evidence for this is overwhelming and beyond debate.
So let us briefly discuss the Ishmael/Isaac controversy. While the Bible does state that Isaac (peace be upon him) was the sacrifice, a careful investigation of the Biblical record exposes contradictions and discontinuities in the story. As was shown in the article “The Biblical Story of Ishmael and Isaac: An Analysis and Comparison with the Islamic Narrative”, the main contradiction in the Biblical story is that Ishmael (peace be upon him) was described as a young child (and perhaps even an infant) who was actually carried by his mother through the desert, when chronologically, he would have been a teenager! As stated in the article:
“…a contradiction arises when we read the Genesis account of Hagar and Ishmael’s exile. Since Ishmael would have been a teenager (older than Samuel was when he became a prophet) and more likely to be caring for his mother than the other way around, the Genesis account is most certainly erroneous because it describes him as if he was an infant!”
There are of course other contradictions as well, but for the sake of brevity, we will not discuss them here. However, it is important to note that some Jewish scribes apparently recognized the contradictions and attempted to remove them from the story. In a 2006 article in the journal “Dead Sea Discoveries”, Betsy Halpern-Amaru made the following interesting observation about a variant of the story in the fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls known as 4Q225:
“…the author of 4Q225 develops a structure that creates a new backdrop for the narrative of the Aqedah. Prefacing the account of the Aqedah is a summary presentation of the promises of a son and multiple progeny in Gen 15:2–6 (2 i 3–7). Isaac’s birth is announced immediately thereafter (2 1 8–9a) and thereby is explicitly portrayed as the fulfillment of the preceding divine promise of a son. The Ishmael narratives that intervene between the promises of the covenant making in Genesis 15 and the birth of Isaac are omitted. Indeed, in 4Q225 Ishmael is never born. Consequently, when God commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son (2 i 11), Isaac is quite literally…the only son the patriarch has.”
So, it would seem that the Biblical record was not as clear as Rivera made it out be!
15. The Muslims were poised to invade Italy from their strongholds in Sardinia and Corsica but were stretched too thin
16. Francis of Assisi negotiated with the Islamic generals
17. The pope signed “concordats” with the Muslims as a result of the negotiations
18. The Vatican and “Mecca” were “fully at peace” after the signing of the “concordats” –
This is yet another example of Rivera’s confused and incompetent retelling of history. He claimed that from their positions in Sardinia and Corsica, the Muslims were poised to invade mainland Italy (and thus threaten Rome itself) and that Francis of Assisi, the venerated Catholic saint, represented the Vatican during the negotiations. But the fact is that Muslim rule ended in these islands by 1090 CE, well before Francis of Assisi was even born (he was born in 1182 CE)!
While Francis of Assisi is often celebrated in Catholic circles for a famous encounter with Muslims, this encounter actually happened in Egypt during the Fifth Crusade, not Italy. In 1218 CE, the Crusaders had blockaded the city of Damietta, and the Sultan Al-Kamil even tried to hand over Jerusalem in exchange for the Crusaders’ withdrawal from Egypt! If control of Jerusalem was the Vatican’s goal, then why did it not accept Al-Kamil’s proposal? Instead, the siege of Damietta continued, and while it eventually fell to the Crusaders, Al-Kamil recaptured it later. But here is the kicker (and which Rivera seemed to conveniently ignore – or was unaware of): the Crusaders actually succeeded in reconquering Jerusalem in 1229 CE! The Catholic king Frederick II became king of Jerusalem and the city would remain under Christian control until 1244 CE when it was reconquered by the Muslims. The Vatican had its prize, for the second time (1099 CE being the first)!
So assuming that there were any “negotiations” to prevent the Muslims from invading Italy (but which clearly did not involve Francis of Assisi), we are told by Rivera that a deal was struck allowing the Muslims to “occupy” Turkey and the Catholics to occupy Lebanon. Once again, Rivera was wrong. Turkey was not conquered in full by the Muslim until the 1400s CE, after the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople and destroyed the Byzantine Empire. Regarding Lebanon, Cearley points out that the Crusaders invaded it in 1109 CE. Again, this was decades before Francis of Assisi was even born!
Rivera also claimed that the signing of the “concordats” signaled a time of peace between the Vatican and “Mecca”. As usual, Rivera’s ineptitude surfaced again. To refer to the Muslim world as if its headquarters was in Mecca, like the headquarters of the Catholic Church is in Rome, is of course ridiculous. Historically, Mecca was never the administrative capital of the various Islamic empires. Instead, cities like Baghdad and Damascus served as the capitals of the Muslim world.
It is also inaccurate to claim that there was a peace treaty between the Vatican and the Muslim world. If that were so, then why did the Vatican support the “Reconquista” of the Iberian Peninsula? Lasting until 1492, when Granada fell to the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, the “Reconquista” had the full support of the Catholic Church. It seems the Vatican violated the alleged “peace”!
19. With the “concordats”, the pope tightly controlled the Muslims “from the Ayatollah down through the Islamic priests, nuns and monks” –
Yes, the reader should let that settle in. The ludicrous nature of Rivera’s claim is plain to see. He claimed that the pope exercised great power over the Muslim world via the “concordats” that he signed with the Islamic leaders. Besides not providing any proof, Rivera once again repeated the same idiotic mistake he made earlier, by confusing the minority Shiite title of “Ayatollah” with the majority Sunni Muslim world! As mentioned earlier, the title “Ayatollah” is not used in Sunni Islam!
Equally ridiculous is the claim that there were Muslim “priests, nuns and monks”. This just shows the laughable ignorance of “Dr.” Alberto Rivera. As Cearley correctly points out,“[t]here are no such positions in Islam.”In fact, asceticism like that practiced in Catholicism (living in convents or monasteries) is actually shunned in Islam.
But even if we set aside these embarrassing errors by Rivera, we are still left with the conundrum of how the pope has expected to control the Muslim world, which was made up of many different languages, cultures and ethnicities living in a large geographical area. Cearley spells out the problem:
“[w]ithout saying how he proposed it was that the Vatican could keep such a ‘[tight] control’ on millions of Muslims in a vast, disparate geography, many different cultures, who continued from those times to expand their presence, especially eastward, I have no idea how Alberto Rivera would even begin to back up this statement.”
20. The Portuguese town of “Fatima” was named “in honor of Muhammad’s daughter” –
A significant part of Rivera’s conspiracy involves events in the Portuguese town of “Fatima”, where an apparition of the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to some children in 1917. Rivera claimed that the Church orchestrated the false miracle in order to stem the tide of socialism in the country and to convert Muslims to Catholicism.
But was the town of “Fatima” actually named by Muslims “in honor of Muhammad’s daughter”? In actual fact, the answer is no. The town was actually named after a Muslim princess who had been forcibly married and converted to Catholicism in 1158 CE. It was not directly named after the beloved daughter of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
21. The Jesuits invented the “Novenas to Fatima” in order to spread “good public relations before the Islamic world” –
Having already goofed on erroneously identifying the Portuguese town of “Fatima” with the daughter of Muhammad (peace be upon him), Rivera then claimed that the Jesuits invented “novenas” in honor of “Fatima”, in a plot to deceive Muslims into joining the Catholic Church. The “poor Arabs” would think that they were “honoring” the Prophet’s daughter, but would in fact be honoring the Virgin Mary. But again, Rivera was blowing hot air. First, since it was a Catholic prayer, it is ridiculous to suggest that it would be uttered in Muslim countries in North Africa or anywhere else. Even if they were pronounced in public as a sort of “public relations” mission, one would think that it would be easy to detect it as a Christian prayer to the Virgin Mary, rather than to Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her), the daughter of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Second, even if some Muslims were to think that these Catholic prayers were directed towards Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her), they would still shun such prayers as they would constitute shirk, the act of setting up partners with Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He). No serious and educated Muslim would dare do such a thing!
Finally, even if the Vatican wanted to use the alleged “miraculous” events at “Fatima” and the novenas to convert Muslims, this plan obviously has failed. More than a century after the alleged appearance of the “Fatima” apparition, Catholics are now outnumbered by Muslims, a fact that even the Vatican does not deny.
22. The Prophet’s daughter Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) died before he did –
Rivera quoted the late Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen as claiming that Muhammad (peace be upon him) praised his daughter after her death and said that she “is the most holy of all women in Paradise, next to Mary”. This is more or less an accurate paraphrase of what Sheen actually wrote, although the exact quote is:
“[b]ut after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary.” In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: “I surpass all the women, except Mary.”
So for once, Rivera was right. However, due to his ignorance, he did not realize that Sheen was wrong, for how could Muhammad (peace be upon him) have “written” anything after the death of Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her), when he died before she did? In a well-known hadith, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was on the verge of death, he informed his daughter that she would be the first in his family to join him:
“Narrated `Aisha: The Prophet (ﷺ) in his fatal illness, called his daughter Fatima and told her a secret because of which she started weeping. Then he called her and told her another secret, and she started laughing. When I asked her about that, she replied, The Prophet (ﷺ) told me that he would die in his fatal illness, and so I wept, but then he secretly told me that from amongst his family, I would be the first to join him, and so I laughed.””
23. Pope Pius XII ordered the Nazis to destroy Russia –
According to Rivera, due to the “vision of Fatima” Pius XII (r. 1939-1958) ordered the “Nazi army to crush Russia…and make Russia Roman Catholic”. Pius XII has often been accused of being a Nazi sympathizer, mostly because of his public silence while the Nazis were rounding up Jews for extermination. But as historian Antonio Spinosa explains, his silence was for practical reasons:
“…the Pope tried to avoid that his words would provoke a more vicious reaction from Hitler.”
In addition, while Pius XII was also accused of being complicit in the deportation of Jews from Rome, Spinosa explains that as many as 800,000 Jews may have been saved by his directives:
“[i]t was a silence that accompanied a powerful action in defense of the Jews: he opened the very doors of the Vatican to them in order to save the greatest number possible. This happened not only in Rome, but also in other parts of Europe, to the point that at least 800,000 Jews owe their lives directly to [Pope Pius XII].”
Also, if the Nazis were under the control of the Vatican, why did the latter allow the killing of more than 3 million Polish Catholics?
24. The pope asked “Islamic leaders” for an army to conquer Spain –
Rivera claimed that the Vatican was desperate to hold onto Spain after political events in the late 1800s and early 1900s threatened the Catholic monarchy there. As a result, the Vatican supported the fascist regime of General Francisco Franco, and asked “the Islamic leaders” to pay their “debt” for betraying the Vatican over Jerusalem by providing an army. A vast army, numbering 4 million men, was sent to conquer and occupy Spain and get “revenge” (presumably for the Reconquista 500 years earlier).
First, Rivera was ambiguous as to the identities of the “Islamic leaders” that the Vatican contacted. Since the majority of the Muslim troops came from Morocco, which became a Spanish protectorate in 1912, it seems these “leaders” must have been Moroccan tribal leaders. Indeed, it was the Moroccan sultan who would have authorized the deployment of Moroccan troops. Second, where did Rivera get the idea that 4 million Muslim troops occupied Spain? Since the majority of troops would have come from Morocco, it is ludicrous to suggest that there would have been 4 million troops involved. In fact, the actual number was around 80,000.
However, it is true that the civil war was seen by Franco and his allies as a struggle against Communism. To both the Spanish Nationalists and the Moroccan soldiers, the war was a struggle “…against a supposedly atheist enemy…” However, it is also true (but which Rivera ignored) that many Arabs actually fought on the side of the Republicans, although not as many as those who fought for the Nationalists. In fact, there were thousands of volunteers from such countries as Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and Algeria, and many indeed identified themselves as communists.
25. The pope made a deal with the “Islamic leaders” not to recognize Israel in exchange for Muslim troops to be sent to Spain –
Rivera claimed that since the “Islamic leaders” owed a “debt” to the Vatican and were bound to aid him as per the “concordats” signed by their ancestors, they nevertheless made a demand from the Vatican. This demand was to never recognize the state of Israel. Of course, Israel became a state in 1948, and the Vatican indeed did not recognize it until 1994. So, was it because of the secret Muslim demand that the Vatican did not initially recognize Israel? The answer is no. Instead, the Vatican was only following centuries of precedent, as it was its official policy that Jews should not be allowed to settle in the Holy Land (this was also the policy followed by all Christian sects, as we saw earlier). Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism, actually had a discussion with Pope Pius X in 1904, asking him to support the idea of a Jewish state, but to his disappointment, Pius X refused. According to Herzl’s own account, the pope responded to his request (emphasis ours):
“[w]e cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem—but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people.”
Also of interest is the fact that Herzl told Pius X that Zionists were not asking for Jerusalem, but rather for the surrounding land of Palestine. In his own words, Herzl told the pope:
“[w]e are not asking for Jerusalem, but for Palestine—only the secular land.”
So, it is historically inaccurate to say that the Vatican refused to recognize Israel because of some “secret” agreement with Muslim leaders. The reality is that it was the official policy of the church for centuries, and it was due to religious reasons.
26. Pope John Paul II’s assassination attempt was planned by the Jesuits –
Another ridiculous conspiracy theory posited by Rivera was regarding the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul II. Rivera maintained that it was planned by the Jesuits to garner sympathy for the pope. He even insisted that the assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, was under orders from the Jesuits to only wound the pope and not kill him. Rivera described Agca as “one of Europe’s top hit men, and an expert marksman”.
As is typical of conspiracy theorists, Rivera did not have solid evidence, only conjecture. For example, it is quite a stretch to describe Agca as a “top” hitman and “expert marksman”. While Agca was a member of the “Gray Wolves” organization, a radical paramilitary unit, he can hardly be described as “one of Europe’s top hit men”. As a matter of fact, aside from the assassination attempt on John Paul II, Agca was convicted of only one other assassination, that of a Turkish newspaper editor in 1979. That is hardly an impressive resume for a “top” hitman. Moreover, Agca was clearly a confused, if not mentally unstable, man. Upon his release from prison, he reportedly said that he was “…Christ eternal”. He also said that he would “write the perfect gospel” since the ones in the Bible are “full of mistakes”. Interestingly, he has also provided contradictory conspiracy theories (perhaps these are what influenced Rivera and Chick). In 1985, he testified that the Soviets had financed the assassination attempt on the pope. But in 2013, when his autobiography was released, he claimed that the order came from Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran! According to a Vatican assessment, Agca had given “over 100 versions of the events”. Clearly, this man was either insane or a pathological liar.
Rivera also claimed, without evidence, that when the pope survived the attempt on his life, he joined the Muslim world in thanking the Virgin Mary! Where is the evidence for this? The truth, of course, is that pious Muslims would never thank the Virgin Mary, as this would constitute the sin of shirk.
27. Ronald Reagan sent Marines to Lebanon to “defend” the “Roman Catholic” nation –
Rivera claimed that, after his assassination attempt, John Paul II became friends with President Ronald Reagan, who had also survived an attempt on his life. Apparently using this leverage, the pope influenced Reagan to send US troops to Lebanon, since it was a “Roman Catholic” nation.
Of course, the real reasons for the American intervention were more complex. Rivera ignored the fact that the Maronite Christians had Israeli support. In fact, Israel’s secret alliance with the Phalangists went back as far as 1948, when Israel was founded. In addition, Israel supported the election of President Bashir Gemayel, who was a Maronite Christian (Gemayel was later assassinated). If the Vatican wanted to protect the “Catholic” nation of Lebanon, it was on the same side as the Israelis, who also wanted to protect the Christian-led government! But Israel’s invasion of Lebanon was one of the reasons why Reagan sent Marines in the first place as part of an international force. After the infamous Shabra and Shatilla massacres of Palestinian civilians, which were carried out by Maronite militiamen with support from Israel, Reagan committed to sending more Marines. As can be seen, the conspiracy theory does not line up with the historical facts. If the reason for asking Reagan to send troops to Lebanon was to “defend a Roman Catholic nation”, the Vatican was actually hurting its own cause. From Reagan’s point of view, the Marines were deployed to oversee the withdrawal of PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) forces from Beirut.
As we have seen in this exhaustive analysis, Alberto Rivera’s conspiracy theory is riddled with historical problems. Based on an atrocious ignorance of history, Rivera concocted the ludicrous theory that the Vatican created Islam. And by his support for Rivera, Jack Chick showed that he was just as inept and ignorant. But their problems do not end here. In Part III, we will examine other errors in the tract.
And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
That would explain how Rivera was able to accumulate so many degrees in such a short amount of time, all while “infiltrating” churches as a Vatican spy!
Laughably, Chick and Rivera attempted to explain the lack of evidence for his various “degrees” by claiming, as usual, that it was a Vatican conspiracy! As Metz explains:
“[a] typical example of Chick’s defense of Alberto: the evidence for Alberto’s degrees disappeared because the Vatican ‘erased Dr. Rivera’s name from all directories in schools, seminaries, and colleges’; Rivera’s former associates and acquaintances contradict his story because they are Vatican spies; the women he was involved with were from ‘the Legion of Mary or Catholic Youth.’ So with the magic wand of Vatican conspiracy, Rivera is exonerated from any evidence that can possibly be adduced against him” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/11/jack-chicks-lies-real-alberto-rivera-exposed.html)
It seems rather convenient that Rivera exonerated himself from producing any evidence by simply claiming that said evidence was destroyed by his Vatican persecutors. But even if this was accepted as a legitimate “excuse” (which it isn’t), shouldn’t Rivera still have copies of the diplomas with him? After all, upon graduating from college or graduate school (even high school), the successful student is given a physical copy of the diploma. Why didn’t Rivera have such copies?
In the time preceding the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), there were three main Arab states: the Ghassanids, the Lakhmids and Yemen (Ibid., pp. 38-39). None of these were situated in North Africa.
 Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 25.
 Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992), p. 55.
However, Armstrong points out that most Arabs were “suspicious” of both Judaism and Christianity.
A key difference between the Syriac Church and the Catholic Church is in the rejection of the “Immaculate Conception” by the former. Of course, there are other differences, but given the Catholic emphasis on Mary being free from “original sin”, this is a key theological difference (http://christianityinview.com/comparison.html).
Also, William Montgomery Watt stated that while Christianity did spread among some Arabs, often times among whole tribes (as Rivera stated), understanding “their grasp of Christianity” was “impossible” (W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 6). In other words, even though these tribes could be described as “Christian”, their actual beliefs may not have aligned with Christian theology, whether Catholic or otherwise.
 Arthur Cotterell and Rachel Storm, The Encyclopedia of World Mythology: A comprehensive A-Z of the myths and legends of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Persia, India, China, and the Norse and Celtic lands (London: Lorenz Books, 2006), p. 56.
Interestingly, the association of Vaticanus with the cult of Mithra seems to be the origin of the English word “pope”. As Cearley explains, the high priest of the cult of Mithra was known as “Pater Patrum”, a title that the bishops of Rome later adopted (Cearley, op. cit., p. 57). The term was then shortened to “papa”, which then became the English word “pope”. But while it was used for any bishop as early as the 3rd century CE, it was not until the 9th century that it was used exclusively for the head of the Catholic Church (https://www.britannica.com/topic/pope).
 Syed Mostafa Azmayesh, New Researches on the Quran: Why and How Two Versions of Islam Entered the World (United Kigndom: Mehraby Publishing House, 2015), p. 7.
Some ignorant people may claim that this means that the Quran was written before Muhammad (peace be upon him), but of course this is not the case. The parchment could be older, but it just means that it was used to write the Quranic text during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), or shortly thereafter. Moreover, the text itself has been identified by scholars to be:
“…an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi script” (Ibid., p. 8).
Thus, it is highly probable that the manuscript may have been written either during the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or shortly after his death, before definitely before 650 CE.
Regarding the possible date of P52, Brent Nongbri has clarified that:
“…any serious consideration of the window of possible dates for P52 must include dates in the later second and early third centuries. Thus, P52 cannot be used as evidence to silence other debates about the existence (or non-existence) of the Gospel of John in the first half of the second century” (Brent Nongbri, “The Use and Abuse of P52: Papyrological Pitfalls in the Dating of the Fourth Gospel.” Harvard Theological Review 98, no. 1 (2005): 23-48).
 Abramsky, Samuel, Shimon Gibson, Michael Avi-Yonah, Menahem Stern, Eliyahu Ashtor, Haïm Z’ew Hirschberg, Walter Pinhas Pick, et al. “Jerusalem.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 143-232. Vol. 11. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. Gale Virtual Reference Library (accessed May 26, 2018).
 Bashan, Eliezer. “Omar Ibn al-KhaṬṬĀb°.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 419. Vol. 15. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. Gale Virtual Reference Library (accessed May 26, 2018).
However, Hoyland adds that the claim of “Muslim warmth towards the Nestorians…must be taken with a pinch of salt…” Also, he adds while Isho-yahb was generally “on good terms with the Muslims”, he was imprisoned and tortured by an Arab governor after his Monophysite rivals reported that he had “considerable wealth”. The governor even ended up ransacking several churches. Of course, this unfortunate incident was the exception rather than the rule.
 It should also be pointed out that Martin I was not the pope when Jerusalem was conquered by the Muslims in 637 CE. The pope at that time was Honorius I (reigned 625-638 CE), so he would have been the pope depicted in Chick’s tract facing the Muslim generals and asking “well?”, expecting them to hand over Jerusalem to him. It is interesting that Honorius I was also accused of allowing “the immaculate faith to be stained” by later church authorities, but no mention is made of any collusion with the Muslims, either by the later church authorities, or any of the other churches, nor was there any mention of the Muslims’ veneration of the pope as a “prophet of God”. In fact, Honorius I was defamed for his apparent tolerance of Monophysitism and Monothelitism, both of which were branded “heretical” by the Catholic Church (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Honorius-I). Given how busy Honorius I was in dealing with the theological controversies threatening to tear Christianity apart, it is ludicrous to say that he was instead busy financing the Muslims and planning the conquest of Jerusalem.
As the link above shows, the novena is clearly directed to Mary. It also ends with the words “[t]hrough Christ our Lord. Amen.” To think that Muslims would be impressed by such a prayer is simply ludicrous!
“The vindication of Pius XII has been established principally by Jewish writers and from Israeli archives. It is now established that the Pope supervised a rescue network which saved 860,000 Jewish lives – more than all the international agencies put together.
After the war the Chief Rabbi of Israel thanked Pius XII for what he had done. The Chief Rabbi of Rome went one step further. He became a Catholic. He took the name Eugenio.”
 Tuma, Ali Al. “Moros Y Cristianos: Religious Aspects of the Participation of Moroccan Soldiers in the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).” In Muslims in Interwar Europe: A Transcultural Historical Perspective, edited by Agai Bekim, Ryad Umar, and Sajid Mehdi, 151-77. LEIDEN; BOSTON: Brill, 2016. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1163/j.ctt1w8h1hd.11.
 There is a barely visible footnote in the tract notifying the reader that the Vatican recognized Israel in 1994. Perhaps this was out of embarrassment, since the original tract from 1988 had to be updated due to the 1994 agreement. Rivera claimed that the Vatican promised “never” to recognize Israel, but it happened nevertheless.
The PLO had informed Phillip Habib, Reagan’s representative, that they would withdraw from Beirut if an international force was sent to protect Palestinian civilians. Given that the Phalangists carried out the Shabra and Shatilla massacres, this request was clearly for good reasons.
Over at BloggingTheology, the issue of the Biblical Jesus’ alleged “sinless” nature is being discussed. I pointed out that the Bible actually shows Jesus committing a few sins, and thus, he could not be the “perfect” or “sinless” sacrifice Christians make him out to be.
Jesus beat up the money changers and overturned their tables. [Violence and anger]
Jesus made some demons enter into pigs and then jump off a cliff. [Animal cruelty and willful destruction of property]
Hence, since their savior is disqualified as a sacrifice for their sins, they are still in their sins and thus going to hell. Sorry Christians, but your religion fails its own criterion for salvation.
Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls – Response to the Chick Tract “The Prophet”, Part I
“To such as Allah rejects from His guidance, there can be no guide: He will leave them in their trespasses, wandering in distraction.”
– The Quran, Surah Al-A’raf, 7:186
This article is a continuation of the series “Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls”. We will now discuss the tract titled “The Prophet”. Due to the length of the tract and the analysis, it will be divided into three parts. Part I will be a summary of the tract, whereas Parts II and III will consist of the analysis.
“The Prophet” – The Plot
The basic plotline revolves around a journalist named “Roscoe”, who is covering the Lebanese civil war in 1983. The coverage of the war has left its mark on Roscoe, who desperately wants to leave the war-ravaged country. Unfortunately, he is given one more assignment to report on the war from the streets of Beirut. While there, he is harassed by a Lebanese Muslim soldier, but the Lebanese soldier doesn’t seem to mind the elderly Christian missionary who is apparently walking around the dangerous streets without a care in the world. This missionary informs Rosco that the war in Lebanon is not between Christians and Muslims, because the Lebanese Phalanges are not Christians, but rather Roman Catholics.
After finishing his last assignment, Roscoe finally gets to go home. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, he meets an old acquaintance, who introduces Rosco to “Dr.” Alberto Rivera. Rivera tells Roscoe that he saw his report in Beirut, a topic that Rosco obviously does not want to discuss. But Rivera begins to tell him the real story behind the conflict in Lebanon, and Roscoe is apparently ready to listen (rather than going home). Rivera informs Roscoe that everything he is about to tell him was learned during “secret briefings” conducted at the Vatican when Rivera was a Jesuit priest (Rivera had since converted to Protestantism). During one such “briefing”, Rivera claims that a Jesuit cardinal named Augustine Bea:
“…showed us how desperately the Roman Catholics wanted Jerusalem at the end of the third century.”
To bring the city of Jerusalem under the control of the Vatican, the Jesuits developed a “scheme” which involved using the “great untapped source of manpower” of the “children of Ishmael” (i.e. the Arabs). Apparently, the Vatican would use the “poor Arabs” in their “clever” plot (but apparently not so clever, as we will see) to seize Jerusalem.
Rivera then describes the ministry of Jesus (peace be upon him) as told in the Bible. He claims that “great Bible prophecies were fulfilled” during this time. John the Baptist appeared first, and then the “the word of God in the flesh”. The message of this “word” brought the “wonderful news” that sinners could have “eternal life” if they made Jesus “their lord and savior”. To counter this, the “prince of darkness” (i.e. Satan):
“…has launched constant attacks against the minds of men to kill this message of hope.”
Despite persecution from the Jews and Romans, “believers” fanned out “with the gospel” and set up churches, even in Africa. Meanwhile, the Jews rebelled against Rome and were defeated in 70 CE. The Roman general Titus destroyed the Jewish temple as well as Jerusalem, in apparent fulfillment of a prophecy made by Jesus (peace be upon him). Some Jews managed to escape into Africa, surviving as nomads, but they were constantly under surveillance by “the agents of Rome”.
But Rome was also facing its own problems. It was “ready to collapse” because of “apathy, greed, cruelty, perversion and rebellion”. Its campaign against Christians was failing as “believers in Christ” were sacrificing “their lives for the gospel”. Apparently desperate to “stop this thrust”, Satan decided that the best way to do so “was to create a counterfeit ‘Christian’ religion to destroy the work of God”. He decided to use the Roman religion, which had its origins in “ancient Babylon”, but with a “facelift”. The process started with the writings of the “early church fathers” such as Augustine. Through his pawns, Satan converted the “statue of Jupiter” into Saint Peter, and the “statue of Venus” into the Virgin Mary. These idols would be erected on the hill of “Vaticanus”, the same place where the “Satanic temple of Janus” once stood. This new “counterfeit” religion was called “Roman Catholicism”, which Jesus apparently referred to as “the mother of harlots” in Revelation 17:5. According to Rivera, the purpose of this religion was to:
Make the nations “drunk with the wine of her fornication” (whatever that means).
The new religion also kept the old policy of “spying on Jews and Christians and plotting their destruction.” It also began strategically installing monasteries near Christian settlements (presumably to keep an eye on them) as well as watching the “descendants of Ishmael” who were living in North Africa as nomads, apparently waiting for the right time (over the course of hundreds of years) to use them for its nefarious plot.
Rivera then gives a short summary of the Biblical story of Hagar and Ishmael. According to Rivera, in modern times (at least by 1983), the “offspring” of Ishmael numbered “almost one billion souls”.
Rivera continues and informs Roscoe that by the 4th century, the Pope had “replaced the Caesars” and commanded great “fear” and “respect”. His followers “fasted, prayed and helped the poor”. Meanwhile, also in the 4th century (354 CE to be exact), the future “church father” Augustine was born. According to Rivera, Augustine’s two most famous writings, “The City of God” and “Confessions” would greatly affect the lives of Arabs for centuries. Augustine was converting Arabs to Roman Catholicism, but many Arabs despised the religion and refused to convert. By this time, the Vatican began sending “spies” to the Arab tribes who had “rejected Catholicism” to spread the rumor that “one day…a great leader would appear, who would gather the Arabs together.” About 200 years later, in 570 CE, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born, and according to Rivera:
“[t]his man would change the course of world history.”
Rivera states that Muhammad (peace be upon him) called himself “The Messenger of God” and established the “great religion of Islam”. Within 20 years of his death (in 632 CE), “his armies defeated the Byzantine and Persian empires” and also “swept into Europe”. According to Rivera, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) “…was an amazing man.”
This is where things get really interesting. Rivera proceeds to explain Islam “as the world sees it” compared to the “shocking” things he learned from the Vatican about “how Islam actually came into existence”. Here are some of the major points in Rivera’s summary about how Islam is viewed by the world:
Islam’s most sacred city is Mecca, in modern-day Saudi Arabia. It was also the birthplace of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
“Islam claims that Abraham and Ishmael built ‘the House of God” beside the well (Zamzam) which saved the life of Ishmael and…Hagar.”
The “Kaaba” (the “House of God”) was originally smaller compared to the modern “cube-like stone structure”.
Faithful Muslims pray in the direction of the Kaaba five times a day to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) “without an intermediary”, and seek His “company in Paradise”.
“In the beginning” (whenever that was), visitors to the Kaaba would bring “gifts”, including idols. Apparently eager not to “offend” the gift-givers, the keepers of the Kaaba placed the idols inside the holy sanctuary.
These keepers, the Jurhumites, were unjust and were eventually driven out by the people. But before they left, the Jurhumites took some of the “treasure of the Kaaba” and dumped it into the well of Zamzam. The Khuzaites took over from the Jurhumites, but introduced the idol of the Moabite god “Hubal” to the Arabs and placed it in the Kaaba. The Khuzaites were then replaced by the Quraysh, who were descended from Ishmael (peace be upon him).
When Muhammad’s father Abd Allah was a young boy, he was almost sacrificed by his father Abd Al-Muttalib because the latter had “prayed to his god” that he would sacrifice one of his sons. Abd Allah was chosen during a divination ceremony in front of the idol of Hubal. He was saved when a second ceremony was done and which favored the sacrifice of 100 camels instead.
Meanwhile, the Catholics had been “pushing the concept of looking for an Arab prophet” who “would be capable of ridding the Arabs of their worship of false gods”.
Abd Allah eventually married a woman named Aminah in 569 CE, but while she was pregnant, he went with a caravan on a business trip and died shortly thereafter. According to tradition, Aminah would hear a “voice” say to her that she was carrying “the lord of his people” and that when he is born, she should pray to God for his protection and name him Muhammad (peace be upon him). When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born, his grandfather Abd Al-Muttalib carried him to the Kaaba “and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to Allah…”
When he was a small boy, Muhammad (peace be upon him) was taken by two men who opened his chest and took out a black clot from his heart and washed the heart with snow. While the mark was not visible on his chest, he did have a birthmark on his back.
When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was six years old, his mother died. Two years later, his grandfather also died.
When he was nine years old, a “Roman Catholic” monk saw the birthmark on Muhammad’s back and exclaimed that “it is the seal of prophethood.” The monk then warned Muhammad’s uncle that he should protect him from the Jews, because if they found out about him, they would “construe evil against him.” According to Rivera, this “Roman Catholic” monk had “fanned the flames for future Jewish persecutions…”
Muhammad (peace be upon him) married Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), who was 15 years older than he was.
Around the year 610 CE, Muhammad (peace be upon him) “claimed he had a vision from Allah of…the angel Gabriel…” who informed him that he was “the messenger of Allah.” He would continue “to receive messages…until his death”. Early on, these visions were “interpreted” by “Waraquah”, whom Rivera claims was Khadijah’s “Roman Catholic cousin”.
Rivera then claims that “some of his revelations were placed in the Koran” in 650 CE, whereas “other writings of Muhammad were never published”.
After persecutions of Muhammad and his followers began, he instructed some of his followers to go to Abyssinia, which was ruled by a…“Roman Catholic king”. The king “accepted” the refugees “because of Muhammad’s views on the virgin Mary which were so close to Roman Catholic doctrine.”
Eventually, Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to leave Mecca in 622 CE and went to Medina. From there, he led “attacks on caravans from Mecca” and also ordered assassinations of those who opposed him. He also “began to show his hostility towards the Jews by raiding Jewish settlements.”
After a prolonged conflict, Muhammad (peace be upon him) eventually defeated his enemies, conquered Mecca and cleared the Kaaba of idols in 630 CE. Here, Rivera apparently borrows verbatim from one of Chick’s tracts to repeat the claim that Muhammad (peace be upon him) chose the “moon god” Allah as the one God and declared himself to Allah’s prophet.
Having summarized the early “history” of Islam, Rivera then proceeds to explain the Vatican’s involvement in the momentous rise of Islam. As previously stated, the Vatican “desperately wanted Jerusalem because of its religious significance”. But for some reason, despite its power, it was “blocked by the Jews” and “the true Christians in North Africa”. And this is why it had the…ahem…brilliant idea to use the manpower of the Arabs to eliminate the pesky Jews and “true Christians”! Some of the Arabs had converted to Roman Catholicism and could serve as spies for the Vatican, whereas others could serve as a “Fifth Column” to “control the…Arabs who had rejected Roman Catholicism”. The Vatican “wanted to create a messiah for the Arabs” and create an “army that would ultimately capture Jerusalem for the pope”.
One such “Catholic” Arab, according to Rivera’s “secret” information received from Cardinal Bea, was none other than Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) herself. She had lived in a convent until she given an “assignment” to “find a brilliant young man who could be used…to create a new religion and become the messiah for the children of Ishmael” (it all sounds so simple, doesn’t it?). Muhammad (peace be upon him) was evidently chosen, and his “intensive training” began, first with Waraqah (who was of course a Catholic spy), and then with other “teachers”. Rivera claims that Muhammad (peace be upon him) even read the words of Augustine and “became a devotee of his works”!
As part of Muhammad’s “grooming”, he was told that Roman Catholics were the “true Christians” and that the Jews were his enemies. Any non-Catholic Christians, as well as the Jews, were thus his enemies “who should be destroyed.” According to Rivera, “this satanic teaching…destroys the efforts of reaching [Muslims] for Christ…” As a result of Muhammad’s revelations, the “Koran” was formed, which Rivera asserts contains “Muhammad’s writings”. But apparently, this is not the only work of Muhammad (peace be upon him), as Rivera claims that there are “unpublished works” that are apparently in the possession of “Ayatollahs” (Rivera refers to them as “high ranking holy men in the Islamic faith”). Rivera explains that in his secret meetings with Cardinal Bea, the priest explained that these documents are kept well-guarded because they link “the Vatican with the creation of Islam”, and that both sides have “information” which would lead to a major “scandal” for both religions.
Rivera goes on and explains that in the Quran, Jesus (peace be upon him) is “only a prophet”. He then asserts that if, according to Catholic teachings, the pope was Jesus’ “representative on earth”, then the pope must also be a “prophet of God”. As a result of this “logic”, Rivera asserts that the “followers of Muhammad” feared and respected the pope as a “holy man”. The pope, using his influence on the Muslims, issued “papal bulls” giving them “permission to invade and conquer the nations of North Africa.” He also financed the Muslim armies, “in exchange for three special favors”:
Eliminate the Jews and the “true believers”.
Protect Roman Catholics.
Conquer Jerusalem for the pope.
As a result of the pope’s support, Islam’s power grew, Jews and “true” Christians “were slaughtered” and Jerusalem was conquered. But when the pope asked for Jerusalem to be handed over, the “Arab generals” reneged, driven by the “exhilaration of victory”.
Rivera further explains that “under Waraquah’s instruction”, Muhammad (peace be upon him) “had written in the Koran…that Abraham offered Ishmael as a sacrifice”. Rivera refers to this as “the great lie” since the Bible states that it was Isaac (peace be upon them both) who was offered as the sacrifice. Because of this belief, the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock on the site of the temple “in Ishmael’s honor”.
By now, the pope had realized that the Vatican’s “creation” was “out of control”. Muslims were now calling him an “infidel”! Apparently, these same Muslims were now targeting Europe for invasion, and asked the pope for “permission” to do. Jumping ahead a few hundred years, another pope started the Crusades “to hold back the children of Ishmael from grabbing Catholic Europe.” These wars lasted centuries and the pope lost his grip on Jerusalem. But apparently going back in time again, Rivera mentions that Spain and Portugal were invaded, and Turkey also fell to them. One particular village in Portugal was even given the name “Fatima”, in honor of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter.
But during the attempted invasion of the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, the Muslims realized they were “too far extended” and had to negotiate with the Vatican. One of the negotiators was Francis of Assisi. As a result of these “negotiations”, the Muslims would be able to occupy Turkey while the Catholics would occupy Lebanon. Even more amazingly, Rivera claims that Muslims would be allowed to build mosques in Catholic countries, so long as Catholicism “could flourish in Arab countries”! In Rivera’s view, which he based on Cardinal Bea’s “briefings”, the Catholics and Muslims also agreed to destroy “their common enemy…Bible believing Christian missionaries.” Not only that, but through these “concordats”, the Vatican “engineered a campaign of hatred between the Muslim Arabs and Jews”, whereas “they had co-existed peacefully” before! Because of these agreements, the efforts of missionaries to convert Muslims have failed, leaving the missionaries “bewildered” as to why they cannot seem to convert more than “a handful of converts” after years of efforts. Of course, the answer is that these poor missionaries are not aware of the “secret agreements between Mecca and the Vatican”.
Jumping ahead to the 2oth century, Rivera claims that the Vatican was concerned with events in Portugal. In 1910, socialism was beginning to spread and the power of the church was decreasing. The Vatican decided it would use a “vision” of the Virgin Mary at the village of Fatima to counter the socialists. According to Rivera, this “production” led to a “major defeat” for the socialists.
But the Vatican also wanted to use the Fatima apparition to bring Islam to “Mother Church”. Rivera claims that “the Jesuits invented the Novenas to Fatima” (special prayers that last for 9 days) and spread them in Muslim lands. To the Arabs, it would appear as if “they were honoring the daughter of Muhammad”, but in fact, they would be honoring the Virgin Mary.
Also targeted by the Fatima hoax was Russia. The Vatican wanted to convert the Orthodox Christians in Russia to Roman Catholicism. Thus, Pope Pius XII used “his Nazi army to crush Russia”. When World War II ended in defeat, Pius then used a phony miracle of the “dancing sun” to “keep Fatima in the newspapers”. The “whole world swallowed it”, despite it being a Catholic “miracle”.
Coming back to Islam, Rivera explains that to the Vatican, the apparition of Fatima was a “turning point” in its effort to convert Muslims to Roman Catholicism. Rivera quotes the late Bishop Sheen, who stated, among other things, that:
“[a]fter the death of his daughter, Fatimah, Muhammad wrote of her that she ‘is the most holy of all women in Paradise, next to Mary’.”
Besides Russia, the Vatican was also keeping an eye on Spain. Political instability in the late 1800s was threatening the Catholic monarchy. A series of governments, both republics and monarchies, eventually led the Vatican to take firm action. In the name of fighting communism, the Vatican launched a vicious campaign to bring Spain under a fascist regime. In order for this plan to work, it contacted “the Islamic leaders” (whoever these were) since they apparently “owed a debt to the Vatican” for not handing over Jerusalem, but also because the concordat signed hundreds of years before required them to aid the pope if he needed their help. An Arab army was raised to help General Franco. The resulting civil war, in which the Arabs took part, slaughtered “unfaithful Roman Catholic men, women and children”. Rivera even witnessed the Arab troops when he was only 3 years old. Four million Muslim soldiers occupied Spain, and Islam’s “debt to the antichrist” had been paid. Rivera adds that in their agreement to help the pope in Spain, the Muslims asked the Vatican to never recognize the state of Israel, since the Jews were demanding such a state. The Vatican honored this pledge until 1994, when it formally recognized Israel.
At this point, Roscoe (whom the reader may remember from the beginning of the tract) finally gets a chance to get a word in. He asks Rivera if it was a Muslim who shot the pope (in 1981), to which Rivera replied in the affirmative. Of course, it was all part of the Vatican’s grand design. In fact, the Muslim word was “humiliated”, because how could a Muslim try to kill the man who represented the prophet Jesus on Earth? As a result, “condolences and apologies” came to the Vatican from the “Ayatollahs”. And according to Rivera, both the pope and the Muslim world “thanked the virgin Mary that he didn’t die”.
Rivera then moves on to the American involvement in Lebanon in the early 1980s. The reason for this, according to Rivera, was because President Reagan and the pope has become “friends” (because they had both been shot), and so Reagan decided to send troops to Lebanon, which was allegedly a “Roman Catholic” nation.
Rivera finishes his conspiratorial diatribe by referring to the Vatican as the “Whore of Revelation 17”. He claims that the Vatican is still trying to gain control of Jerusalem, and the Muslim nations will assist him in this endeavor. Rivera uses the “Gog and Magog” prophecies in the book of Ezekiel to predict that the Muslims and Communists (the tract was first published in 1988) will attack Israel but will be destroyed themselves. After this event, Satan will start the “battle of Armageddon”, which will prompt Jesus (peace be upon him) to descend to Earth and kill the Antichrist (who will supposedly be the last pope) and begin his 1000 year rule.
Rivera ends his epic conspiracy theory with a lamentation for the billions of Catholics and Muslims who have been deceived by Satan and the Vatican. He blames “Rome” for “this unspeakable crime”. The tract then ends with a warning to Muslims that “some Ayatollahs, who are in command of your religion” are aware of the “unprinted works of Muhammad”, that all of Rivera’s claims are true, and that the only way to salvation is to accept Jesus as savior.
“[o]n this holy place today…stands the Dome of the Rock Mosque (Islam’s second most holy place).”
Of course, anyone with even a little bit of knowledge can see that this statement is only half right. In actuality, the Dome of the Rock is not Islam’s “second most holy place”. In fact, it’s not even the third most holy place. Of course, it is sacred to Muslims, but in terms of importance, the three most “holy” mosques in Islam are the Grand Mosque in Mecca, which houses the Kaabah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which is situated close to the Dome of the Rock.
 Vaticanus is described as one of the “7 hills” of Rome. It is obvious that Rivera is making a reference to Revelation 17:9. While it is clear that the author of Revelation was referring to Rome, it is not proven that he was also referring to Roman Catholicism, which is why the fanciful interpretations of fanatics like Jack Chick and Alberto Rivera are both laughable and absurd. For more on the book of Revelation, see our article here: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/the-book-of-revelation/
 This is where Islam comes into play in Rivera’s conspiracy theory.
 This is of course inaccurate because Rivera was conflating Arabs with Muslims, even though not every Arab is a Muslim, nor do Arabs comprise the majority of Muslims. In fact, Arabs are a small minority of Muslims because Islam is a global religion, with followers from multiple nationalities and ethnicities, alhamdulillah. This inaccurate conflation between Arabs and Muslims has been repeated in other Chick tracts, such as “Camel’s in the Tent”, which we have discussed in a previous article: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/islam-jack-chick-and-the-battle-for-souls-camels-in-the-tent/
 This is one of the few times where Rivera actually makes an accurate statement!
 This is also true, but as of this point, Rivera’s rate of accuracy will decrease exponentially!
 Actually, the word “Kaaba” literally means “cube”, not “House of God”.
“…looked upon the Kaaba as an outlying tabernacle of the Lord with veneration, until it became polluted with idols.”
 Apparently, without warning, Rivera has already moved from the story of Islam as the world knows it to his allegedly more “accurate” and “shocking” version.
 Rivera sidetracks a bit here by referring to an “incredible statement” Muhammad (peace be upon him) made as an adult:
“Satan touches every son of Adam the day his mother beareth him, save only Mary and her son.”
Rivera then credulously asks (emphasis in the original):
“[w]hy would Muhammad be pushing Roman Catholic teaching? Isn’t this strange?”
We will answer this rather strange question later, inshaAllah.
 We will discuss whether this monk was actually a Catholic or more likely a member of one of the “heretical” sects of Christianity.
 In order for his conspiracy theory to line up, Rivera simply assumes that the monk (“Bahira” or Sergius), Waraqah (not “Waraquah”) and also Khadijah were all “Roman Catholics”, but there is no evidence provided. We are just supposed to take his word for it. But as we will see, the reason Rivera does not offer evidence and simply accepts it on faith that they were Roman Catholics is because there is no such evidence.
 This is a laughable and bizarre claim, and yet again, Rivera offers no proof! We are once again just supposed to accept his word. Unfortunately, as is typical of conspiracy theorists, when their theories are challenged with facts, they tend to fall apart. We will discuss Rivera’s absurd claims about the Quran in the analysis section below.
 Again, Roman Catholics are the dark agents in this conspiracy theory. We are once again told that Roman Catholics came to the aid of Islam, but we are given no evidence. Was the Negus actually a Roman Catholic, or was he a member of a different sect of Christianity? We will find out in the analysis.
 Of course, it was not yet known as “Medina”. Instead, it was called “Yathrib”, but we can forgive Rivera for his of attention to detail. He was a conspiracy theorist after all!
 We have dealt with this polemic previously and will discuss it briefly again. Chick and his cronies liked to repeat this claim but it is sensationalism at its core, rather than an honest retelling of history.
 This is another often-repeated polemic which is bereft of facts, and is nothing more than sensationalist drivel.
 Among the repeated claims are that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) was really a “moon god”, that “history proves that …the Sabeans in Arabia worshipped the moon-god who was married to the sun-goddess” and that they had three daughters who were known as the “daughters of Allah”. We will briefly deal with these debunked claims again.
 One wonders why such a powerful organization could not simply conquer Jerusalem and would simply brush aside any opposition from the Jews or “true Christians” in North Africa. What did the Jews have to do with Jerusalem, since they had been exiled from the city? What did the “true Christians” in North Africa have to do with Jerusalem? As is typical of conspiracy theories, we are supposed to take leaps of faith and logic in order to fit all the pieces. Otherwise, using evidence and reason, the conspiracy theory would not make sense.
 And what evidence does Rivera provide for all these sensational claims? None whatsoever.
 As usual, no evidence is given. We are supposed to just accept Rivera’s word. Of course, it is rather strange that the “Ayatollahs” would have such documents, given that they are leaders of the Shiite branch of Islam, not the majority Sunni branch! Rivera’s claim that the “Ayatollahs” are “high ranking holy men” is pure sophistry, since they are only referred by that title among Shiite Muslims.
 These are the sort of leaps of logic that conspiracy theorists have to indulge in. In order to confirm his own absurd theory, Rivera has to make non-sequiturs and logically-flawed statements which have no basis in fact. We will discuss this ridiculous non-sequitur in the analysis.
 Chick makes an “interesting note” that Roman Catholics or their shrines were never attacked at this time, but the churches of “true” Christians were destroyed. This claim will be fact-checked in the analysis.
 Rivera says that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had “removed Isaac’s name and inserted Ishmael”. We will briefly revisit the Biblical story of Ishmael and Isaac (peace be upon them), and show that the Biblical account is confusing and contradictory, and that some Jews had tried to remove the confusing parts of the story!
See note #7 for the link to the article on Ishmael and Isaac.
 Rivera doesn’t seem to realize the contradiction: how could Muslims be calling the pope an “infidel” and yet also be asking for “papal bulls” to give them “permission” to invade Europe?
 Rivera doesn’t seem to realize that, during the Crusades, the Christians managed to conquer Jerusalem on two occasions. In fact, on one occasion, a Muslim ruler even offered to hand over Jerusalem in exchange for the withdrawal of the Crusaders from Egypt. The pope had his prize!
 This is, of course, inaccurate. The name of the village was not given by the Muslim conquerors, as we will see. One must ask why the conquerors would have chosen a small, obscure village to give such an honorific name. Also, why didn’t they give the village the name of Muhammad himself, or one of the caliphs? Clearly, even before fact-checking Rivera’s claim, we can see it is absolutely ridiculous.
 We will briefly discuss this event as well. As it may already be obvious to the reader at this point, Rivera is just blowing hot air. The reality of this historical encounter between Francis of Assisi and the Muslims is actually more interesting that Rivera’s conspiracy-minded revisionism. Another problem is Rivera’s ineptitude in maintaining the historical chronology.
 Rivera claims that the signing of the “concordats” allowed the Vatican to maintain “a tight control” on the Muslim world, even the “Ayatollah” and “the Islamic priests, nuns and monks”. Anyone with even a minute amount of knowledge about Islam can see that Rivera is full of hot air, and is nothing more than an ignoramus. Since when do Muslims have “priests, nuns and monks”? And since when is the “Ayatollah” a title for any Muslim leader other than the Shiite Ayatollahs?
 Apparently blinded by his rants, Rivera doesn’t seem to realize the obvious contradiction in claiming that the Muslim Arabs had “co-existed peacefully” with Jews before the “concordats” signed by the Vatican and the Muslims. Earlier, he had claimed that the Vatican had instilled hatred for Jews and “true believers” since the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him)! How could Arab Muslims and Jews have “co-existed” if hatred for Jews was instilled in the minds of Arab Muslims from the beginning of Islam’s history?
 Referring to “Mecca” as if it is the Muslim equivalent of the “Vatican” is ludicrous, of course.
 This is complete nonsense. When we fact-check this claim, we will find that the “Novenas” have nothing to do with the daughter of Muhammad (peace be upon him), Fatima az-Zahra. The prayers are very literally to the Virgin Mary. Even if they were directed at Fatima, no true Muslim would recite these prayers, as it would be an act of shirk. Praying to anyone other than Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is the gravest sin in Islam. The same would apply to any prayers directed to Mary, the mother of Jesus (peace be upon them). Also, it is ludicrous to allege that Muslims would be none the wiser about the true nature of the prayers.
 This seems hard to believe. Perhaps Catholics believed in the Pope’s “vision”, but it is unlikely that the “whole world” took him at his word and believed that such a miracle occurred.
 As any Muslim or knowledgeable non-Muslim would immediately see, this statement is completely false since the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) died before his daughter Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her)! Moreover, as we will see later, while Fatima was described as one of the greatest of all women, there were others who were given a higher rank, including the Prophet’s first wife, Khadijah, as well as Mary and Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh.
 Unfortunately, Rivera’s chronology is once again inaccurate. The fact is that the Vatican had maintained a strict policy regarding the Jews’ presence in the Holy Land for centuries, even before the rise of Islam. Also, the opposition to the Jews was maintained by non-Catholic Christians as well.
 The pope is sort of like Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars!
 As already stated, Rivera’s pathetic logic and ignorance is in full view.
 Rivera still has not figured out that the “Ayatollahs” are Shiite Muslim religious leaders, not Sunni Muslim. The latter represents more than 90% of the Muslim world. One would think that “Dr.” Rivera would be able to know the difference!
Amazingly, Rivera also insinuates that the pope was actually a communist!
Not only that, but the Muslim assassin was allegedly ordered not to actually kill the pope. Despite being “an expert marksman”, he shot the pope below the navel, as per his instructions from the Jesuits.
 This is, of course, another lie. Muslims would never “thank” the Virgin Mary or any person, living or dead, not even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)! It is a fundamental teaching of Islam that prayers of thanksgiving should only be directed to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He).
 The reader may recall that in the beginning of the tract, Chick had insinuated that the Lebanese Maronite Christians were actually Catholics. Even if this was true (which it is not), Lebanon was still NOT a “Roman Catholic” nation. It is, in fact, a majority Muslim country (with both Sunnis and Shiites).
 It seems rather amazing that despite all its power and more than 1500 years of trying, the Vatican has never held Jerusalem, except for the brief occasions during the Crusades. Curiously, Rivera never refers to these events.
Also, one must ask why Muslim countries would still be willing to help the Vatican conquer Jerusalem after centuries of intrigue.
 Of course, the Cold War ended shortly after the tract was published, and the Soviet Union was dissolved. Naturally, fanatics such as Rivera, Chick and Pat Robertson (among others) who were hoping for a cataclysmic war with the Soviet Union had to find a new enemy for their end times scenario. For more on Christian predictions during the Cold War, see Grace Halsell’s book Forcing God’s Hand: Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture and Destruction of Planet Earth (USA: Amana Publications, 2003).
 Anyone familiar with the Bible will immediately see Rivera’s atrocious ignorance of the chronology of Biblical prophecies. The “battle of Armageddon” is supposed to happen after Jesus’ descent, not before (Revelation 20)! Why is it that a Bible-thumper, who claims that the Bible is the “final authority”, misquotes the Bible?
 One cannot help but respond to such a warning with laughter!
As-salaam alaikum. The next article refuting Chick tracts is nearing completion and will discuss the infamous Vatican-Islam conspiracy theory outlined in the tract “The Prophet”. Due to the length of the this tract, the article is much longer than usual. Therefore, it will be published in parts: Part 1 will be the usual summary of the tract, and Parts 2 and 3 will consist of a detailed analysis of the conspiracy theory. Part 1 will be published in a few days, and Parts 2 and 3 will be published sometime thereafter, inshaAllah.
“But there are some people who trade in ‘entertaining tales’, to lead others, without knowledge from God’s path, and to hold it up to as a joke. There is a humiliating punishment for such people. When My verses are recited to them, they turn away arrogantly as if they didn’t hear them, like there’s some sort of barrier around their ears. So, announce to them a painful torment. But for those who believe and do good deeds, there will be Gardens of constant blessings for them, to live in forever. This is the promise of God in truth and He’s the Final Authority and the One to pass Judgment.”
I was going to take Ramadan off but due to a parody video in the comments and that some non-Muslim commentators didn’t seem to know much about the discussion they were having, I decided to write an article explaining the matter in detail. The argument brought forth in the video is that these two hadith means the Prophetﷺ allowed Muslims to drink dirty contaminated water:
“Abu Sa’eed AI-Khudri narrated: “It was said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Shall we use the water of Buda’ah well to perform ablution while it is a well in which menstruation rags, flesh of dogs and the putrid are dumped?” Allah’s Messenger said: ‘Indeed water is pure, nothing makes it impure.’”
“It was narrated that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: “We came to a pond in which there was the carcass of a donkey, so we refrained from using the water until the Messenger of Allah came to us and said: ‘Water is not made impure by anything.’ Then we drank from it and gave it to our animals to drink, and we carried some with us.””
So let’s start an examination of the claim. The easiest part to refute in the video is the second hadith. Anyone who checked the link will know that the hadith is weak and so it’s thrown out for evidence, hence why the gentlemen in the video didn’t show the quote in the book like they did with the first hadith which is authentic and will now be discussed.
One will notice in the first hadith there is no mention of drinking water but about ablution or Wudu, which is a washing process Muslims do before prayer. The hadith is talking about this washing process and nothing more. So a lack of reading comprehension is how the mistake in the video began. This was a general statement by the Prophetﷺ to tell the person who asked the question whether water be used for washing. Because the well was so big, a small amount of something gross won’t ruin the whole well.
Now let’s look at Buda’ah well mentioned in the hadith. Abu Dawood’s commentary on the hadith states that:
“…the well was situated in sloping ground. When the rains came, these impure substances would be carried from the roadways and the yards of people’s houses and dropped into the well. However, due to the considerable amount of the water in the well, the quality of the water was never affected or altered.”
This means that the water was running and not just a stagnant pool. Other ahadith further explain the condition of the water in the well:
“Abu Dawud, said I heard Qutaibah b. Sa’id say: I asked the person in charge of the well of Bud’ah about the depth of the well. He replied: At most the water reaches pubes. Then I asked: Where does it reach when its level goes down ? He replied: Below the private part of the body.
Abu Dawud said: I measured the breadth of the well of Buda’ah with my sheet which I stretched over it. I them measured it with the hand. It measured six cubits in breadth. I then asked the man who opened the door of garden for me and admitted me to it: Has the condition of this well changed from what it had originally been in the past? He replied: No. I saw the color of water in this well had changed.”
So it was not a well like something you see on a show like Little House on the Prairie:
Rather, it was sort of like a small river running down a hill that people used as a well. Rainwater would wash the occasional object in it. So they weren’t sure if it would be appropriate to wash in this water for prayer because of that.
Muslim Redactors and Editing?
After other evidence was brought to show that the Prophetﷺ was speaking about water generally, the claim of contradiction was made. Another commenter claimed:
“Most likely later generations of muslim [sic] scholars tried to reconcile these contradictions with redactions and additions.”
This same commenter also claimed that my faith “was keeping me blind from the obvious”. Again basic reading comprehension will show that there’s no contradiction and one would have to cite proof for the claim of redactions and editing (which they did not. Of course, it can be tempting for someone to assume this because their own religious scribes had this issue with redaction and editing. Let’s explore this in more detail. Here are the hadith quoted:
“You should not pass urine in stagnant water which is not flowing then (you may need to) wash in it.”
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “None of you should take a bath in stagnant water when he is sexually impure.”
The person appears to have gotten confused and thought they were talking about the same incident and also wondered why it would be necessary to say that. Well, the Prophetﷺ told people not to urinate or bathe directly in bodies of water outside because other people might drink or wash in it not knowing that. Remember this is in ancient times in the desert and people had to bathe and wash themselves – they didn’t have the luxury of plumbing that we have nowadays. They used lakes, wells, streams, rivers, collected rain water etc. So the Prophetﷺ said don’t urinate or bathe in these pools of water because someone might come after you.
Finally the last hadith quoted to show the statement was general:
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar that his father said:
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was asked about water and how some animals and carnivorous beasts might drink from it. He said: ‘If the water is more than two Qullahs, it will not carry filth.'” It comes with some explanation in Sunan At-Timidhi ‘Abdah (one of the narrators) said: “Muhammad bin Ishaq said: ‘A Qullah refers to Jirar (These are two nouns describing large casks that are used to hold water), and a Qullah is the thing that drinking water is held in.”‘ At-Tirmidhi said: “This is the saying of Ash Shafa’i, Ahmad and Ishaq. They say that when the water is two Qullahs then nothing makes it impure, as long as it does not change its smell, and its taste. And they say, it is approximately fifty Qirbahs (waterskins).”
This goes back to the same point. if you have a large amount of water that is considered large enough that a little amount of something gross won’t instantly contaminate the whole thing. So all these hadith are saying is:
This well’s water is pure to wash yourself and nothing from this small amount of trash makes it impure.
Don’t urinate or take a bath in stagnant water so you don’t contaminate other people.
Water can be contaminated if it’s a small amount and something gross gets into it.
These are not contradictions, but a general statement combined with exceptions to the rule of thumb. Water by itself is fundamentally pure. If there are impurities involved, the water would also become impure; not because of the water itself, but because of what’s in it.
The Companions opinion was based off a weak hadith? (Sigh. I know. Just please…go with it)
The last point that’s worth noting is that a list of classical Companions and scholarly opinions were listed to show that water’s purity is a general statement. Furthermore, the people who heard the Prophetﷺ say the statement in question about water didn’t understand what heﷺ said in the way the video claimed. What they said was that water does not get affected by a small gross object getting into a large body of water, except when the water’s smell, taste or color changes. In response, the non-Muslim commenters said that they based their opinion on a weak hadith!
For the purpose of trying to not make this blog post too long, let’s go down the line. These are people who met the Prophetﷺ or students of people who met the Prophetﷺ. They’re not sitting there reading Bukhari or Muslim etc. This is what they taught at their schools. This would be like me thinking that the early Church Fathers’ opinions about wife beating not being grounds for divorce are in the New Testament.
One big difference in Islam and Christianity’s history is that God allowed us to defeat our oppressors and by the end of the Prophet’sﷺ life Islam was an authority in the land. Many Companions set up schools to teach the next generation of Muslims. They weren’t passing secret notes back and forth. Some of the people quoted in the list had never even met. This was just their understanding that the statement about water is general but if something happens to the water, don’t drink it or use it for ablution. We can see a basis for the opinion because, as can be seen in the hadith about the well, it was a large amount and one small thing doesn’t contaminate it. As for a small amount, it’s possible it can become contaminated. Where confusion took place is that it was shown that a weak hadith just happened to say the same thing they had said as well (hence it’s use as a supporting evidence but it could never stand by itself) so it could be that heﷺ did say this because all these Companions said the same thing when asked. But we cannot use it as a proof by itself because a narrator is unknown in the chain. And as can be seen from the first section, it’s not even necessary to refute the claim of the video and for the sake of argument it can be thrown out.
There is a general statement about using water to wash before prayer.
The donkey in the pond hadith is weak and not used for evidence.
All the hadith quoted to show that the statement was general about washing for prayer are not contradictory or edited. They are talking about specific incidents and exceptions.
The Companions opinions were not based off a weak hadith.
Hopefully this will be enough to put this matter to rest. Ramadan Mubarak to everyone and next time if you have a question about something in Islam, please message it privately and don’t spam the comment section.