Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls – “Unforgiven?”

Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls – Response to the Chick Tract “Unforgiven?”

pdf
View as PDF

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

–  The Quran, Surah Al-Hujuraat, 49:13

            This article is a continuation of the series “Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls”.  We will now discuss the tract titled “Unforgiven?”[1]

“Unforgiven?” – The Plot

            The tract begins with a young African-American man named Lamont on his first day in prison for an unknown crime.  The white prison guard tells Lamont that if he wants to survive in prison, he should “stick to [his] own kind”.  The other prisoners all begin to taunt Lamont, saying things like (emphasis in the original):

“[y]ou’re gonna wish you’d never been born, boy!”

But Lamont quickly finds help in the prison.  His fellow African-American prisoners promise to protect him if he does what they tell him.[2]  The alliance pays off, as five years later, Lamont is released from prison unharmed.  He is picked up by another shady African-American man, who we have to assume will complete Lamont’s brainwashing.[3]

            Three weeks later, Lamont’s grandmother awakens from a “terrible nightmare” (emphasis in the original) and tells her husband Fred that she has to call Lamont.[4]  Fred, though, is busy taking his nap.  When she calls, Lamont refuses to talk to her.  When grandma asks Lamont’s wife (?) Lily to explain what is going on, Lily reveals that there has (emphasis in the original):

“…been a big change in the house”.[5]

Lamont is now called Muhammad, a revelation which causes grandma to “gasp” in shock.  But being the cool woman that she is, grandma recovers very quickly from the shock and tells Lily that she will be coming for a “short” visit.     

            When Muhammad/Lamont finds out that his Bible-thumper of a grandmother is coming for a visit, he asks his Muslim friend “Ali” about how he can “handle her”.  Judging by the way “Ali” is dressed, it appears that he is a member of the “Nation of Islam” (the bowtie is a dead give-away).[6]  When Lamont tells Ali that his grandmother “teaches Sunday school”, Ali informs him that the Quran (4:101) says that “unbelievers are your open enemy”.  As such, Ali tells Lamont that he (emphasis in the original):

“…must not let her enter your house.  It shouldn’t be a problem.”[7]

            When grandma arrives for her visit, she is anxious and afraid.  She prays to the “Lord” to give her “strength” and put the right words in her mouth, because she really loves the “boy”.[8]  When Lamont tries to bar her entrance, she embraces him quickly and asks him to hug her.  Apparently, this trick worked and Lamont allowed her to enter.  When inside, grandma asks Lamont to tell her what has happened.  He replies that he found the “truth” while in prison.  Then he suddenly becomes aggressive and complains that he got “nothin’” out of being “dragged” to church every Sunday and that she lied to him.  He even comments that he “spits” on her religion.       

            Grandma responds with the usual Christian bluster.  She claims she doesn’t follow a “religion” because she has “eternal life with Jesus”.[9]  In contrast, she asserts that Lamont is the one who is following a “religion”, one that forces him to pray five times a day to a “moon god” (sigh…yes, Chick pulled out that card again…) that does not even care if he lives or dies.  She claims that Jesus hears her prayers “…no matter when, where or how” she prays because he “really” loves her.  She tells Lamont that if he fails to obey “the way of Allah”, he can be killed.[10] 

            At this point, Lamont switches gears and tells his grandmother that he is “not in a white man’s religion” like she is.  To this, grandma responds that the Bible never said that Jesus was white, but that “we know for sure that Muhammad was a white man” who “insulted black people” by referring to them as “raisin heads” (sigh…yes, Chick pulled out that card again as well).[11]  She also claims that:

“[i]t was Muslim slavers who went through African villages stealing our people.”[12]

She also points out that the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) owned slaves as well. 

            Lamont refuses to believe these claims and states that the Quran says that Muhammad (peace be upon him) served as a “beautiful pattern of conduct” (33:21), to which grandma replies that Muhammad (peace be upon him) “married and went to bed with a little girl, who still played with dolls”,[13] and also “set up a religious army who terrified and tortured everybody”.[14]

            She also claims that “Muhammad put himself above the Lord”, citing bits and pieces of the New Testament that describe Jesus (peace be upon him) as “God” (while ignoring the other bits and pieces that clearly show that he was simply a man who worshiped God), and that Muhammad called Jesus “a liar” ( while citing Surah An-Nisa, 4:157).[15]

            Grandma claims that “Jesus left heaven” and that it was “prophesied”.  In fact, according to grandma, thirty prophecies were “fulfilled” on the day Jesus was allegedly crucified, whereas Muhammad (peace be upon him) fulfilled none.[16]  She says that Muhammad (peace be upon him) “ridiculed the crucifixion by saying it was a lie” (again citing Surah 4:157), and by doing so, he “denied Jesus Christ and became an antichrist.”[17]  By denying Jesus (peace be upon him), grandma maintains, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and all of his followers will be denied by Jesus before the “Father”, as stated in Matthew 10:33, and once in hell, they will declare that “Jesus Christ is Lord”. 

            At this point, Lamont has had enough.  He shouts “Allahu Akhbar (sic)” and stretches out his hands to attack the elderly lady.  But grandma makes a stand, and as if protected by some mysterious power, she tells him to take his hands off her “in Jesus (sic) name”.  Grandma tells Lamont that Jesus still loves him and pleads with him to “make Jesus your Lord and Saviour”.  She warns him that if he refuses to believe in Jesus, he will die in his sins and be…“unforgiven” (queue dramatic music).[18]  But Lamont chooses Muhammad (peace be upon him) and tells grandma to get out of his house, referring to her as an “infidel”.  But before she leaves, she tells Lamont that he is the “infidel” (real mature of her) because he declared “jihad on Jesus”.[19]

            Six months after this ugly incident, Lamont suddenly dies and, as expected in Jack Chick’s world, he faces a humongous Jesus seated on a throne (with an invisible face for some reason).  This “Jesus” tells Lamont that his sins are “unforgiven”, and to:

“[d]epart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire…”[20]         

Analysis of “Unforgiven?”

            This tract repeats many of the same allegations and silly polemics against Islam that Chick used in other tracts.  So let us proceed to tear this propaganda tract apart as we have done with the others, with emphasis on the new polemics rather than the old ones.

            First, the tract has the usual plot holes that we find in Jack Chick’s comics (and no response to these tracts would be complete without exposing these plot holes).  Lamont’s supposedly “loving” family was nowhere to be seen when he ended up in prison or when he was released.  Why didn’t grandma have a nightmare when her beloved grandson became a convict?  What about when he was picked up by the shady Muslim?  Couldn’t grandma have been warned ahead of time in her dreams?  Let’s face it.  “Unforgiven?” is a piece of literary garbage (as are all Chick tracts in general), unfit for reading even by schoolchildren.   

              Besides this, there are the usual dark caricatures of Muslims.  The three Muslim convicts are all menacing and evil-looking characters (one even looks like a zombie for some reason and the leader seems to have pale white eyes):[21]

chick - unforgiven brothers

But the “brothers” actually protected Lamont, and he managed to survive his five-year prison term.  When he was released, he was picked up by a man named “Ali”, who presumably would complete Lamont’s transformation into a Muslim.  But judging by Ali’s clothing (a bow-tie and suit), he was a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as an organization with a “black nationalist” ideology.[22]  That would be enough to discredit this organization as pseudo-Islamic, as racial superiority (whether of Arabs over non-Arabs or blacks over whites) is not a tenet of Islam, as clearly stated in the Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon to his followers:

“[a]ll mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”[23]

The Quran also eschews racism, and states that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) created different “peoples and tribes” from one pair (Adam and Eve), which means that all mankind is equal except by righteousness:

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”[24]

This ideology of Islamic brotherhood is one of the reasons that Malcolm X left the NOI and converted to Sunni Islam (a move which certainly led to his assassination by the NOI).  In his autobiography, brother Malcom X explained that when he was on the plane headed to Mecca for the Hajj, it was “packed” by:

“…white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair – all together, brothers!  All honoring the same God Allah, all in turn giving equal honor to each other.”[25] 

And while on the Hajj, he described how he ate and drank with his brothers:

“[d]uring the past eleven days in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white.”[26]

            Aside from the racist beliefs of the NOI which disqualify it as an “Islamic” group, other beliefs it holds clearly contradict orthodox Islam.  According to the NOI website, they identify a man named “Wallace Fard Muhammad” as “Master”, but even more egregious is this man’s claim to:

“…being the answer to the one that the world had been expecting for the past 2,000 years under the names Messiah, the second coming of Jesus, the Christ, Jehovah, God, and the Son of Man.”[27]

He also identified himself as the “Mahdi”, but of course, fulfilled none of the conditions of the true Mahdi.  Thus, from its foundations, the NOI was a pseudo-Islamic organization.  If Lamont had converted to this religion, then he was not a true Muslim.[28] 

            Later on, Lamont asked Ali for advice on how to deal with his Christian grandmother.  Ali responded by first quoting a verse from the Quran, Surah An-Nisa, 4:101, which says that the “unbelievers” are “open enemies” to Muslims.  But here is what the entire verse actually says:

“[w]hen ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers may attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.”

As can be seen, the verse is specifically talking about unbelievers who may attack Muslims.  It says nothing about peaceful unbelievers being “open enemies”.  Moreover, the phrase “open enemies” is self-explanatory.  It is referring to those unbelievers that have declared their hostility to Muslims.  It is these people that the verse is talking about.

            Next, Ali told Lamont not to allow his grandmother into his home, even though there is actually no command in the Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) not to let unbelievers into one’s home.  But there is such a command in the Bible, which Chick seemed to conveniently forget!  How embarrassing!  In the Second Epistle of “John”, there is a clear command to not allow non-Christians into a Christian home:

“[a]nyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.”[29]

The irony is that Chick later quoted the First Epistle of “John” to show how “love” can remove “fear”:

“[b]ut perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”[30]

How could the author (assuming he wrote both letters) talk about “love” in one letter but then talk about barring non-Christians from one’s home?  How can there be “love” when one bars a person from one’s home on the basis of religion or any other reason?    

            When grandma arrived, Lamont meekly tried to keep her from entering.  But after essentially barging her way into Lamont’s house, grandma began her interview.  Lamont was blunt.  He no longer followed her “religion” and in fact, he “spat” on her religion.  Grandma responded that she doesn’t follow a “religion” because she has “eternal life with Jesus”.  Of course, regardless of the semantics, Christianity is a religion.  Christians still have to do certain things in order to be “saved”, even if there are not many “rituals” (aside from baptism).  Having “eternal life” does not change that. 

            Grandma also criticized Islam’s requirement of five daily prayers in the direction of Mecca to an alleged “moon god that doesn’t care if you live or die.”  The “moon god” myth has already been refuted multiple times, and it seems to get dumber every time a Christian apologist repeats it.  But what about this nonsense about the Islamic God not caring if someone lives or dies?  Does Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) ever say this in the Quran?  The answer, of course, is no.    

            Moreover, the Tanakh repeatedly mentions the importance of obeying God’s commandments.  Christians like Jack Chick liked to pretend that the laws of the Tanakh no longer applied to Christians because of the so-called “New Covenant”.  But the Tanakh contradicts this claim.  A good example is Psalm 119, which illustrates the importance of following God’s commandments.  The beginning of the psalm states:

“[b]lessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.”

Ironically, this very psalm also mentions the importance of praying a certain number of times per day!  In verse 164, the psalmist mentions that he praises God “seven times a day”![31] 

             But Christians will probably still argue that this was part of the “Old Covenant”, and the “New Covenant” does not require these daily prayers.  However, the book of Ezekiel refutes this claim.  According to the prophecies mentioned in the book, after the climactic battle with “Gog and Magog”, the temple will be rebuilt and the temple sacrifices will be reinstated.[32]  The laws of the Tanakh would be followed yet again, and this time, it will be for good.  Even the law banning Gentiles will be reestablished:

“[t]his is what the Sovereign Lord says: No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh is to enter my sanctuary, not even the foreigners who live among the Israelites.”[33]

We have to assume that this includes African-Americans like grandma!       

            Moving on, grandma also claimed that Jesus “hears” her prayers, and it doesn’t matter when, where or how she prays.  But as we have already seen, the Tanakh prescribed at least three daily prayers and, at most, seven.  In fact, Psalm 55:17 states that when these prayers are made, God “hears” them:

“[e]vening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.”

To make matters worse for grandma, there is evidence that the early Christians also prayed at least three times a day.  According to the “Didache”, a document dated by scholars to the early 2nd-century CE,[34] Christians were encouraged to pray the “Lord’s Prayer” three times a day, just like the Jews did.[35]  In other words, Christians were supposed to pray the “Lord’s Prayer” specifically and at certain times of the day, and not just any prayer they felt like saying or at any time!  The author of the “Didache” specifically stated:

“[d[o not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Thine is the power and the glory forever.

Pray this three times each day.”

But it gets worse.  According to the book of Acts, the apostles prayed at the same time as the Jews did:

“[o]ne day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.”[36]

“About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.”[37]

The fact that the apostles apparently prayed like the Jews did is certainly ironic given that the author of the “Didache” warned Christians not to mimic the Jews when fasting (but rather to fast on different days), but still encouraged Christians to pray at the same times as the Jews.  As the Catholic Encyclopedia states:

“[b]eyond doubt we must look upon the writer as living at a very early period when Jewish influence was still important in the Church. He warns Christians not to fast with the Jews or pray with them; yet the two fasts and the three times of prayer are modelled on Jewish custom.”[38]

So, contrary to grandma’s watered-down version of Christianity, Christians from the late 1st to early 2nd centuries prayed in a specific way and at specific times, just like Muslims do.

            But what about the five daily prayers in Islam?  These are called Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha.  Is it an Islamic belief that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) only “hears” or accepts prayers when done at these five times?  Of course, the answer is no.  For sure, the five prayers are the minimum requirement and it is not lawful for a Muslim to miss them without a legitimate excuse, but nowhere is it stated in the Quran or the Sunnah that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) only hears prayers at these allotted times.  In fact, in addition to the five “obligatory” (fard) prayers, there are also “recommended” (sunnah) prayers and “voluntary” (nafl) prayers.  The optional prayers can be done at any time and do not have any allotted times.  However, all prayers (whether fard, sunnah or nafl) are prohibited at three times of the day:

  1. When the sun is rising.
  2. When the sun is at its zenith (midday).
  3. When the sun is setting.[39]

Not only this, but it is allowed to make up the prayers at a later time, even to combine prayers (such as Zuhr with Asr and Maghrib with Isha), so long as there is a legitimate excuse.[40]  Moreover, a person who is travelling is allowed to shorten the prayers, so as to make his journey easier.[41]  Hence, while making the prayers at the five appointed times is obligatory, one does find exceptions to the rule when there is a legitimate excuse. 

            In addition, exceptions are also allowed in the physical performance of the prayers.  For example, if a person is unable to stand in prayer (due to old age or some other infirmity), he/she may pray while sitting.[42]  This reflects the compassion that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) shows to His servants, as stated in the Quran:

“He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.”[43]

In his commentary on this verse, the famous exegete Ibn Kathir stated:

“[s]o the Salah, which is the most important pillar of Islam after the two testimonies of faith, is obligatory, four Rak`ahs when one is settled, which are shortened to two Rak`ah when one is traveling. According to some Imams, only one Rak`ah is obligatory at times of fear, as was recorded in the Hadith. A person may pray while walking or riding, facing the Qiblah or otherwise. When praying optional prayers while traveling, one may face the Qiblah or not. A person is not obliged to stand during the prayer if he is sick; the sick person may pray sitting down, and if he is not able to do that then he may pray lying on his side. And there are other exemptions and dispensations which may apply to the obligatory prayers and other duties.”[44]

So, we can say that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) indeed loves us!  He has made things easy for us, and has shown us compassion!  All praise is due to Him!           

            Also, grandma seemed to confuse “prayer” with “supplication”.  The two are not necessarily the same thing.  While the Arabic word “salat” refers to the ritual prayers, the word “dua” refers to a specific supplication.  And as it turns out, duas can be made at any time and under any circumstance.  In fact, there are specific duas that can be made for specific situations.[45]  An example of a common supplication that Muslims make is:

رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ[46]

This dua is from the Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:201, and translates as:

“Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”

So grandma was clearly a bit overzealous, and rather ignorant.  However, this shouldn’t come as a shock as Jack Chick’s characters tend to by overzealous and ignorant.

            As her rant continued, grandma claimed that if Lamont fails “to obey the way of Allah”, he can be killed “where you stand”.  In support of this claim, Chick cited Surah An-Nisa, 4:89, which states:

“[t]hey but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”

Of course, Chick ignored the very next verse which states:

“[e]xcept those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them).”

As previously mentioned, these verses refer to the “Hypocrites”, which were people living in Medina at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who outwardly professed to being Muslims but were secretly allied with the pagans in Mecca.  Since these people cooperated with the pagans in their nefarious plans against Muslims, they were declared to be enemy combatants.  However, as verse 91 states, if these hypocrites were members of tribes which were allied with Muslims or if they declared their unwillingness to fight against Muslims, then they were to be left alone, in contrast to grandma’s claim that they could be killed “where [they] stand”.

            Next, Chick and grandma opened up a tirade against Islam using the race card.  When Lamont declared that he was “not in a white man’s religion”, grandma retorted that Jesus was not white, and nor did the Bible every say so.  Of course, here she is right (for once).  Jesus (peace be upon him), being an Israelite from the Middle East, was not a “white man”, at least in the European sense.  He was a “Semite”, a group which also includes the Arabs, and both Arabic and Hebrew are “Semitic” languages.[47]  So on what basis did grandma repeat the ludicrous Christian polemic that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a “white man”?  We have dealt with this silly claim in a previous article, but we can expand here and refute it further.[48]  The main point of the Christian confusion is regarding the Arabic word “abyad”, which could signify a “fair” complexion.  As Islamic scholar Habeeb Akande explains:

“[t]he Arabs’ use of the word ‘white’ was relative and was mainly used for fair-skinned peoples.  The Romans (Europeans) and Persians were considered ‘white’ in comparison to the Arabs, whilst the Arabs were ‘white’ in comparison to the black Africans.  ‘White’ could also be used metaphorically for dark-skinned peoples.”[49]

Furthermore, Akande explains that:

“[i]n the past, when the Arabs described someone as white, they meant either that he had a pure, noble essence or that he had a nice, smooth complexion without any blemishes.  They meant he had a black complexion with a light-brownish undertone.”[50]

Clearly, neither Chick nor grandma understood that words could have multiple meanings in the Arabic language, as with any Semitic language.  In fact, in the Arabic language, the correct word to use when referring to literal “white” people is not “abyad” but rather “ahmar” (red).  As Akande explains, this word was:

“…used by the Arabs to describe what we would today call ‘white people’; the term was generally used to refer to the Byzantine Romans and Persians of that time.”[51]

In general, “ahmar” was used to describe non-Arabs of European or Persian background.  Thus, when the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was described as a “white” (abyad) man, it did not mean that he was a white guy.  But since he was an Arab man with a “noble essence” and a “nice, smooth complexion”, he was appropriately described that way. 

            Next, grandma also accused the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) of racism by claiming that he referred to black people as “raisin heads”.  We have also dealt with this silly polemic previously.[52]  The irony is that the hadith which Christian polemicists use to accuse Muhammad (peace be upon him) of “racism” actually refutes it!  The hadith states:

“Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Messenger () said, ‘You should listen to and obey your ruler even if he was an Ethiopian (black) slave whose head looks like a raisin.’”[53]

So we can see that this hadith actually states that Muslims should obey their leaders, even if he is an Ethiopian slave.  We can also see that the hadith does not say all Ethiopians have heads that look like “raisins”.  Also, as we noted in the article on the Chick tract “Camel’s in the Tent”, there are other versions of this hadith which either do not mention any physical characteristics of Ethiopians,[54] or which mention some other trait, such as an Ethiopian whose nose and ears had been cut-off.[55]  The meaning here is that no matter what the physical characteristics of a leader (whether his color or other traits), the people should obey him, as long as he rules according to the laws of Islam.

            But there is more to the hadith.  Scholars describe the use of the phrase “…whose head looks like a raisin” as an Arabic rhetorical device known as “an argument by the absurd” or “trajectio ad absurdum”, a term coined by the late British orientalist Bernard Lewis,[56] which he explained as the following:

“[a] principle is asserted and an extreme, even an absurd, example is given – but the purpose is to show that the principle still applies even in this extreme and absurd formulation.”[57]

Akande explains that the hadith of the hypothetical Ethiopian slave “whose head looks like a raisin” uses the “trajectio ad absurdum” rhetorical device because the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“…wanted to stress the importance of obedience to the legitimate Islamic authority, however unlikely the form in which it appears.”[58]

            Next, grandma accused Muslim “slavers” of going “through African villages stealing our people”, bringing up the controversial and tragic history of black slavery.[59]  It is unfortunately true that Muslims preceded Europeans in engaging in the African slave trade.  According to Akande:

“…Arab-Muslim enslavement of black Africans and others pre-dates and post-dates the Western-Christian slave trade…”[60]

So yes, Arab Muslims were involved in one of the greatest crimes in history, but does that make Islam an anti-black religion?  If “guilt by association” is grandma’s way of denouncing both Islam and Muslims, then what about blacks who enslaved other blacks?  What about the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans?[61]  Was grandma even aware that blacks often enslaved other blacks, and that the history of the slave trade among Africans predates both the Arab and European slave trades?  According to the “Lowcountry Digital History Initiative” (LDHI) at the College of Charleston:

“[s]lavery was prevalent in many West and Central African societies before and during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. When diverse African empires, small to medium-sized nations, or kinship groups came into conflict for various political and economic reasons, individuals from one African group regularly enslaved captives from another group because they viewed them as outsiders.”[62]

In addition, even during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, in many cases Africans helped Europeans capture other Africans as slaves.  The LDHI explains:

“European traders generally relied on a network of African rulers and traders to capture and bring enslaved Africans from various coastal and interior regions to slave castles on the West and Central African coast. Many of these traders acquired captives as a result of military and political conflict, but some also pursued slave trading for profit.”[63]

In a few cases, some African kingdoms that previously resisted the slave trade, such as the Mossi kingdoms, actually became involved in slave trading later on![64]  The fact that both Europeans and Africans were all too eager to participate in the slave trade, even when it involved enslaving their countrymen, is a fact of history.  As Bernard Lewis stated:

“[a]mong white Europeans and black Africans alike, there was no lack of enterprising merchants and middlemen, eager to share in this profitable trade, who were willing to capture or kidnap their neighbors and deliver them, as slaves, to a ready and expanding market.”[65]

The bottom-line is that slavery was a global institution, and every civilization practiced it to some extent.  It was the unfortunate fact of life for thousands of years.[66]

            As for what Islam taught and what many Muslims actually practiced regarding race relations, the words of Bernard Lewis offer some insight:

“[t]he cause of racial equality is sustained by the almost unanimous voice of Islamic religion-both the exhortations of piety and the injunctions of the law.  And yet, at the same, the picture of inequality and injustice is vividly reflected in the literature, the arts, and the folklore of the Muslim peoples.  In this, as in so much else, there is a sharp contrast between what Islam says and what Muslims-or at least some Muslims-do.”[67]

In other words, the horrid crimes committed against Africans by Arab Muslims were never upheld by the egalitarian teachings of Islam.  As shown above, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) decried racism.[68]    

            Next, grandma also repeated the common polemic regarding Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his marriage to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her).  We have also discussed this already elsewhere,[69] and it is a silly obsession with some modern Christian apologists.  The reality is that the marriage was never a matter of controversy, whether to the Arabs of the Prophet’s time or to medieval Christian apologists.  Before the 20th century, the marriage was never criticized by anyone!  As Islamic scholar Jonathan Brown observes:

“…I have found no instance of anyone criticizing the Prophet’s marriage due to Aisha’s age or accusing him of pedophilia until the early twentieth century.”[70]

Also, it was common even in western societies for girls to be married at an early age.  In England, for example, the age of consent for girls was as young as 10, and this was in the 19th century.[71]   

            Moreover, beloved Biblical figures such as Isaac (peace be upon him) are said to have married young wives.  According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Isaac married Rebekah when she was between 10 and 14 years old and he was forty (and some Jewish sources state that she was as young as 3 years old, though this is probably unlikely).[72]

            Not only that, but much to the chagrin of the Christian apologists, the Bible sets puberty as the standard for marriage.  In a highly symbolic chapter in the book of Ezekiel, God is shown describing His relationship with the nation of Israel, with the latter symbolized as a young girl.  In chapter 16, God describes the girl in frankly graphic terms:

“I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.  Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love…”[73]

We can see that God is describing a naked, pubescent girl who has breasts as well as “hair”.[74]  Interestingly, while the translation of the New International Version simply mentions “hair” (which may lead the reader to assume the hair on the girl’s head), the context of the verse is not describing that.  Biblical commentators have noted that the “hair” is actually referring to pubic hair.[75]  In other words, God is describing the private parts of the young, pubescent girl![76] 

            In addition, verse 8 makes it clear that the girl had reached the age of marriage and “love”:

“[l]ater I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body” (NIV).

So, she was now considered old enough to be married.[77]  Given the evidence from the Bible, the Christian criticism of the marriage of Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) is definitely misplaced and hypocritical. 

            However, before we move on, there is still the accusation that Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was still playing with dolls when her marriage with Muhammad (peace be upon him) was consummated.  Curiously, Chick did not cite any particular hadith to support this claim, but instead appealed once again to the moronic ramblings of Al-Ghazoli.  Chick cited pages 35-38 of Al-Ghazoli’s book for this claim, but Al-Ghazoli did not mention that Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was still playing with dolls.  So, it appears that Chick was  a little confused.  Of course, the hadith literature does mention Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) playing with dolls, but how does that prove that she was immature or too young to marry?  In the modern world, if an adult plays with Legos, video games, dolls or other toys, does that mean he/she is not an adult?  Clearly, this type of argument is nothing more than a non-sequitur.[78]  As a matter of fact, according to the testimony of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) herself, she considered herself to be a woman and not a child.  According to Tirmidhi, she stated that:

“[w]hen a girl reaches the age of nine years, she is a woman.”[79]    

            Next, grandma also made a rather silly and obviously exaggerated claim when she said:

“[Muhammad] set up a religious army who terrified and tortured everybody.”

Really, grandma?  This army tortured “everybody”?  That is a bit of a stretch, isn’t it?  Regarding the “torture” argument, this is another repeated Chick polemic, which has been refuted already.[80]      

            Moving on, grandma claimed that since Jesus (peace be upon him) was “God almighty [sic]”, Muhammad (peace be upon him) called him a “liar” and “put himself above the Lord”.  There are many problems with this line of reasoning, which is not surprising, given that it is from a Chick tract!  First of all, Jesus (peace be upon him) never claimed to be “God Almighty”.  Indeed, in the gospels, Jesus (peace be upon him) states that he has a God:

“I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”[81]

How can Jesus be “God” and yet also say that he has a “God”?[82]  Ironically, a similar statement is made by Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Quran:

“[i]t is Allah Who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a Way that is straight.”[83]

Clearly, Islam only affirms what Jesus (peace be upon him) truly believed, so how can Muhammad (peace be upon him) have “lied”?  Jesus (peace be upon him) did not claim to be “God”.  That is the truth!

            Grandma also claimed that Jesus (peace be upon him) had fulfilled “30 prophecies” on the day of his crucifixion (without providing any examples), while Muhammad (peace be upon him) fulfilled none.  Of course, the assertion that many prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus, whether at his birth, during his life or at the crucifixion, sounds impressive but when scrutinized objectively, it falls flat.  It seems that Christians like grandma are the real “liars” here.  We have discussed these “alleged” prophecies before and found them to be severely lacking.[84]            

            Grandma also accused Muhammad (peace be upon him) of being an “antichrist” because he “denied Jesus Christ”.  Chick cited 1 John 2:22 for support:

“[w]ho is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.”

When reading this verse, we can immediately see that it is in fact a false accusation.  The verse says that “the liar” is the one who “denies that Jesus is the Christ”.  In other words, whoever denies that Jesus is the Messiah (since “Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah”)[85] is a “liar”.  Using simple logic, we can ascertain that if we use this verse as a yardstick to determine who is a “liar” and who is not, then it shows that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was NOT a “liar”, since he believed that Jesus (peace be upon him) was the Messiah!  There is ample proof from the Quran and the Sunnah:

“Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.”[86]

Moreover, it is an article of faith for a Muslim to believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) was the servant of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He):

“[h]e who said:” There is no god but Allah, He is One and there is no associate with Him, that Muhammad is his servant and His messenger, that Christ is the servant and the son of His slave-girl and he (Christ) His word which He communicated to Mary and is His Spirit… Allah would make him…enter Paradise through any one of its eight doors which he would like.”[87]

Grandma was clearly not affiliated with the facts, or she was deliberately lying!  Based on the above, it was also ludicrous of her to give Lamont a false dichotomy of choices: either you choose Jesus or you choose Muhammad (and why it was also ludicrous of Lamont to choose only Muhammad).  But in actual fact, a true Muslim chooses both Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them both)!  Just because Muslims reject the false and contradictory picture of Jesus being “God” as painted by Christians does not mean we reject him, and it certainly does not mean that we “hate” him.  Thus, the warning in Matthew 10:33, that Jesus (peace be upon him) will deny those who denied him, simply cannot be applied to Muslims.

            Finally, when Lamont died suddenly six months after his ugly meeting with grandma, he found himself being judged by a faceless Jesus.[88]  As is true in other Chick tracts, this “Jesus” misquotes the Bible to condemn Lamont to hell!  As we have discussed previously, Matthew 25:41 does not refer to people who die in their sins because they rejected Jesus.[89]  The phrase “depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire…” is supposed to be said to those people who did not give charity, or visit the sick.  That is the context of verse 41, but for some reason, Chick repeatedly misused it in his tracts, which shows that it was a deliberate act of deception.          

           Conclusion

                In this article, we have dissected the tract “Unforgiven?”, which was clearly geared towards people with an African background.  As usual, we did not see any attempt at honesty from Chick’s fictional characters.  There was a one-sided attack on Islam and Muslims, using unfair caricatures, misinformation and out-right lies.  Sadly, this was typical of Jack Chick and his propaganda tracts.  Truth and honesty were thrown out the window in favor of lies and deception.      

And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best! 


[1] http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1043/1043_01.asp

[2] Of course, since all three of the “brothers” Lamont encounters appear to be angry, dangerous men, we have to assume that they are Muslims.  Such was Jack Chick’s favorite caricature of Muslims.

[3] Apparently Lamont’s family, including his grandmother (who evidently “loves him to death”), either didn’t care that he was being released or were somehow unaware.  As is typical of Chick tracts, this is another laughable plot hole from a man who was clearly not a very good storyteller!

[4] Lamont’s grandmother either didn’t realize that he had been in prison for 5 years, or it just wasn’t a big deal which gave her nightmares!  One wonders if she even visited him in prison.

[5] As Lamont’s past criminal behavior landed him in prison, one has to wonder what kind of environment was prevalent in the house before the “big change”.

[6] If Lamont had converted to the “Nation of Islam”, the he was actually not a true Muslim, as the NOI has certain beliefs that contradict Sunni Islam.  We will discuss this in more detail in the analysis.

[7] The irony is that there is no command either in the Quran or the Sunnah that says that Muslims must not let unbelievers into their homes, but there IS a command in the New Testament to not allow non-Christians into a Christian household!   

[8] But again, if she really “loved” him, where was she when he ended up in prison?  From the looks of it, Lamont has not seen his grandmother for years.  Apparently, she did not “love” him enough to visit him in prison!  Such is the lackluster storytelling that Jack Chick was famous (or infamous) for.

[9] Whatever grandma’s definition of “religion” is doesn’t really matter.  The point she is making is that her “religion” doesn’t force her to carry out rituals, such as prayer, in order to be saved.  This is an important topic which we will discuss in the analysis.  Christians have formulated a false belief that salvation only comes through faith in Jesus, but the early Christians did not believe that.  Rather, early Christians believed that faith must be coupled with good deeds, such as prayer, in order for a Christian to be truly “saved”.  Thus, in that sense, grandma is also following a “religion” no matter what she says.  In fact, grandma even says that she prays.  The only difference is that she prays whenever she wants and however she wants, but this too contradicts the views of the early church.   

[10] Chick cites Surah An-Nisa, 4:89 to support this claim, but that verse is talking about hypocrites who wish to turn believers away from Islam.  We will discuss this verse later.

[11] These two laughable polemics have already been dealt with in another article, so we will only briefly discuss them later.

[12] Chick cites yet again the debunked and pseudo-scholarly source “Christ, Muhammad and I” by Al-Ghazoli, an idiotic apologist whom we have dealt with before and will do so again, inshaAllah.

For now, it seems that the “words” that grandma asked her “Lord” to put into her mouth are not exactly “truthful” words.  Apparently, only half-truths are what her “Lord” is giving her.  The history of slavery is very long and complex, and while Muslims certainly did play a role in the slave trade, so did Christians.  Furthermore, it was not just Arabs and Europeans who took part in the slave trade.  Other Africans did too, and they went from village to village “stealing” other Africans in order to sell them to European slave-owners!  We will discuss the sad and tragic history of the slave trade in more detail later as well, inshaAllah.  For now, it should suffice to say that “grandma” was not telling the whole truth! 

[13] Curiously, Chick does not cite any specific hadiths here, even though he did elsewhere (such as with the “raisin head” claim).  Instead, he lazily cited Al-Ghazoli once again, even though Al-Ghazoli did not mention the dolls.  Nevertheless, there are of course several hadiths which relate that Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) played with dolls.  We will discuss this later.

[14] This is another oft-repeated polemic in Chick tracts, and one which has been debunked already. 

[15] Verse 157 refers to the crucifixion and states that Jesus was not the one who was crucified.  It is difficult to see how this verse somehow proves that Muhammad called Jesus “a liar”.  This must be the bizarre logic we see all too often from many Christian apologists. 

[16] These sorts of exaggerations are commonplace among Christian apologists, but when they are analyzed, they always seem to fall flat.  The fact of the matter is that the Tanakh does not prophesy the coming of “God” in human form to die for humanity’s sins and then to be resurrected three days later.

[17] Shockingly, grandma (like Chick) is once again misquoting the Bible.  It is amazing how many Christians seem to forget what the Bible actually says when they go on their anti-Islamic tirades!  In the analysis, we will demonstrate grandma’s incompetence in quoting her own scripture, inshaAllah.

[18] What was that about “love” driving out “fear”?

[19] Of course, all of this nonsense about “denying” Jesus, or declaring “jihad on Jesus” is typical Chick-style bluster.  Muslims do not deny Jesus.  In fact, besides Christians, we are the only ones who believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) was the Messiah! 

[20] Matthew 25:41.

However, as we have seen in a previous article, this verse has been taken out of context by Jack Chick. We will briefly discuss why again in the analysis.

[21] The image is reproduced under the “Fair Use” clause: https://www.copyright.gov/fair-use/more-info.html

[22] https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/nation-islam

[23] http://www.iqrasense.com/about-islam/the-last-sermon-khutbah-of-prophet-muhammad-farewell-sermon.html

[24] Surah Al-Hujuraat, 49:13.

[25] Malcolm X and Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1965),  p. 372.

[26] Ibid., p. 391.

[27] https://www.noi.org/noi-history/

[28] Of course, one would not expect Jack Chick to be honest and make a distinction between the NOI and Sunni Islam.  But judging by the fact that Chick does not even refer to any of the NOI’s beliefs in the tract, it is possible that he was simply lumping it together with Islam out of ignorance.

[29] 2 John 1:9-11.

[30] 1 John 4:18.

If God is “love”, as verse 16 claims, then why does the Christian god threaten all non-Christians with eternal punishment in hell?  Isn’t there an element of fear here? Chick certainly tried to use this fear in trying to persuade non-Christians to believe in Jesus as their “savior”.

[31] It appears this requirement was later changed to three prayers per day, since Daniel is shown to pray three times a day during the Babylonian Exile (Daniel 6:10).

[32] Chick frequently referred to the “Gog and Magog” prophecy in Ezekiel as promising the destruction of the nations of Islam.  But if this is the case, then when (and if) this prophecy ever comes true (which it won’t), the rest of the prophecy clearly refutes the Christian religion.  Whereas Christians maintain that the temple sacrifices are no longer needed (since Jesus serves as their “sacrifice”), the book of Ezekiel says that they will be reestablished. 

[33] Ezekiel 44:9. 

[34] Burton L. Mack, Who Wrote the New Testament: The Making of the Christian Myth (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1995), p. 239.

[35] http://earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html

They were also encouraged to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

[36] Acts 3:1.

[37] Acts 10:9.

[38] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04779a.htm

[39] Abu’l-Iklhas Al-Shurunbulali, Ascent to Felicity: A Manual on Islamic Creed and Hanafi Jurisprudence, trans. Faraz A. Khan (London: White Thread Press, 2010), p. 71.

[40] This is the view of the Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’i schools, but is not allowed by the Hanafi School (www.myreligionislam.com/detail.asp?Aid=6407).  Rather, Hanafi scholars take the “safest” view known as “jam’ al-suri”, which is the performance of two prayers “one after another”; i.e. the first prayer is performed at the end of its allotted time and then the next prayer is performed immediately after (Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf, Fiqh al-Imam: Key Proofs in Hanafi Fiqh (London: White Thread Press, 2003), p. 210).

Nevertheless, it is allowed for a Muslim who follows a particular school (whether Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, or Shafi’i) to follow another school if there is a strong need to do so, as in the case of combining prayers.  There is a well-established precedent in this regard (http://islamqa.org/hanafi/qibla-hanafi/43723).

[41] According to the Hanafi School of jurisprudence, it even becomes “wajib” (mandatory) for a person travelling to shorten his prayers.  The minimum distance is approximately 48 miles (77 km), after which shortening of the prayers becomes mandatory (Ibid., p. 92).

[42] Ibid., p. 76.  See footnote #215.

[43] Surah Hajj, 22:77.

[44] http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2484&Itemid=77

[45] See Sa’id bin Wahf Al-Qahtani, Fortress of the Muslim: Invocations from the Qur’an and Sunnah (Riyadh: Darussalam, 2006).

[46] Surah Al-Baqrah, 2:201.

[47] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Semite

[48] https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/islam-jack-chick-and-the-battle-for-souls-camels-in-the-tent/

[49] Habeen Akande, Illuminating the Darkness: Blacks and North Africans in Islam (London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., 2012), p. 13.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid., p. 12.

[52] https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/islam-jack-chick-and-the-battle-for-souls-camels-in-the-tent/

[53] Sahih Bukhari, 9:89:256.

[54] “It was narrated that Yahya bin Husain said: “I heard my grandmother say: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah say, during the Farewell Pilgrimage: If an Ethiopian slave is appointed over you who rules according to the Book of Allah, then listen to him and obey” (Sunan An-Nasai, 5:39:4197).

[55] “It was narrated from Umm Husain that she heard the Messenger of Allah () say: ‘Even if the one appointed over you is a mutilated Ethiopian slave whose nose and ears have been cut off, listen to him and obey, so long as he leads you according to the Book of Allah (Sunan Ibn Majah, 4:24:2861).

[56] Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East: An Historical Enquiry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 34.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Akande, op. cit., p. 7.

In other words, an Ethiopian with a head that looks like a “raisin” or an Ethiopian whose arms and legs have been cut-off, are both given as unlikely examples to emphasize the importance of obeying those in authority.

[59] Chick yet again cited the debunked pseudo-scholar Al-Ghazoli, but the citation appears to be a mistake.  Chick cited page 10 of Al-Ghazoli’s book “Christ, Muhammad and I” but that page does not discuss the issue of slavery in Islam.  However, Al-Ghazoli does discuss the issue elsewhere, and his characteristic deception and ignorance reared their ugly heads again. 

For example, Al-Ghazoli cited Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah’s statement that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) purchased slaves more than he sold them (Mohammad Al-Ghazoli, Christ, Muhammad and I, trans. R. Winston Mazakis (California: Chick Publications, 2007), p. 169).  Here is Al-Ghazoli’s rendition of Ibn Qayyim’s statement:

“[t]he purchasing of slaves by Muhammad was much more that [sic] his selling slaves” (Ibid.)

But here is the actual statement:

“[h]e [Muhammad] bought more than he sold once Allaah honored him with his message and he engaged in hire, though he was most often a provider.  However, it has been recorded that he sold one slave for two slaves and that he offered himself to Khadija as a merchant” (Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, Provisions of the Afterlife Which Lie Within Prophetic Guidance, trans. Ismail Abdus Salaam (Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah, 2010), p. 43).

This publication is available online here: https://ia801208.us.archive.org/11/items/ProvisionsOfTheAfterlife/ProvisionsOfTheAfterlife.pdf

We can see that Ibn Qayyim first made a general statement about the Prophet’s business dealings.  He purchased more than he sold.  Then, Ibn Qayyim mentioned that the Prophet sold one slave in exchange for two slaves.  But this is only referring to a specific incident which is mentioned in Sunan Abu Dawud:

“Narrated Jabir: The Prophet () bought a slave for two slaves” (Sunan Abu Dawud, 22:3352).

But we also have a hadith which states that there was one incident where the Prophet (peace be upon him) purchased one slave in exchange for two slaves.  The slave he purchased had converted to Islam, but his master had come looking for him.  So, in order to prevent the slave being returned to an unbeliever, the Prophet purchased him for two black slaves (Sunan An-Nasa’I, 5:39:4189).  So clearly, Ibn Qayyim was referring to one particular incident involving slaves, whereas the statement about purchasing more than selling was regarding general business.  

Moreover, Al-Ghazoli evidently did not feel obliged to mention another of Ibn Qayyim’s statements regarding the Prophet’s dealings with slaves.  Perhaps this was because Al-Ghazoli was not interested in an honest portrayal of Islam but rather one with shock value.  Regarding the emancipation of slaves, Ibn Qayyim noted:

“[i]t was his practice to emancipate the slaves of the polytheists when they accepted Islaam, and he has said: (they have been emancipated by Allaah the magnificent)” (Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, op. cit., p. 295).

Ibn Qayyim also stated:

“[i]f a slave escapes from the polytheists and joins the believers, he is free.  …Ibn ‘Abbas has said: the messenger of Allaah (may Allaah send salutations upon him) used to emancipates [sic] slaves who arrived before their masters” (Ibid., p. 451).  

[60] Akande, op. cit., p. 28.

[61] As Bernard Lewis explained:

“[t]he Arab Muslims were not the first to enslave black Africans.  Even in Pharaonic times Egyptians had already begun to capture and use black African slaves…There were black slaves in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds – but they seem to have been few and relatively unimportant, and regarded no differently from other slaves imported from remote places” (Lewis, op. cit., p. 41).

[62] http://ldhi.library.cofc.edu/exhibits/show/africanpassageslowcountryadapt/introductionatlanticworld/slaverybeforetrade

[63] http://ldhi.library.cofc.edu/exhibits/show/africanpassageslowcountryadapt/introductionatlanticworld/african_participation_and_resi

[64] Ibid.

[65] Lewis, op. cit., p. 11.

[66] Moreover, it is a common misconception that slavery has actually been “abolished”.  For example, while the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution banned slavery in general, it still allowed it in one case: as punishment for a crime.  The text of the amendment states this clearly (emphasis ours):

“[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/13thamendment.html).

[67] Lewis, op. cit., p. 20.

[68] This egalitarianism can also be seen in the example of Abu Dharr and Bilal (may Allah be pleased with them).  As explained in the response to the Chick tract “Camel’s in the Tent”:

“Muhammad (peace be upon him) reprimanded the companion Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him), who was an Arab, for reproaching Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him), who was an Abyssinian and the first muezzin of Islam, by saying “oh son of a black woman” while they were having an argument.  In other words, Abu Dharr got angry at Bilal and denigrated his ethnicity in the heat of the moment.  When he heard what Abu Dharr had said, Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

‘[h]ave you reproached Bilal about his mother? By the one who revealed the Book to Muhammad, none is better than another except by righteous deeds. You have none but an insignificant amount’” (https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/islam-jack-chick-and-the-battle-for-souls-camels-in-the-tent/)

Contrast this with the behavior of grandma’s savior towards the Gentile woman who was desperately seeking his help.  His response was:

“[i]t is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:26).

One can imagine the same response had it been grandma seeking the “savior’s” help!  Being a Gentile, she had to wait for her turn as a lowly “dog” waiting at her master’s table!  Given the racist undertones of this story, it is perhaps not surprising that the Gentile Luke did not mention the story in his gospel.

[69] https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/islam-jack-chick-and-the-battle-for-souls-camels-in-the-tent/

[70] Jonathan A. C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy (London: OneWorld Publications, 2014), p. 144.

[71] https://discover-the-truth.com/2013/09/09/age-of-consent-in-european-american-history/

[72] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12610-rebekah

[73] Ezekiel 16:7-8.

[74] Some Christians, evidently trying very hard to conform to modern standards, have asserted that the reference to breasts refers to “fully developed” breasts (https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/post-pubescence-what-age-is-it/#comment-4400).  Thus, they argue that since breast development occurs in five stages (according to modern medical standards), all five stages must be completed for “full” development to occur, and since Stage 5 of breast development in females can last to the late teens (http://www.healthofchildren.com/P/Puberty.html#ixzz5MJpI4qn2), these Christian apologists assert that the girl in Ezekiel 16 must have been in her late teens as well.  If the Christian assertion is correct, this would mean that only when a girl reaches her late teens is she considered ready for marriage and sexual relations.  Unfortunately for these Christians, this line of reasoning fails for a few reasons:

  1. Stage 5 is the final stage of breast development BUT it can begin anywhere from age 12 to age 19, with age 15 being the average (Asma Javed and Aida Lteif, “Development of the Human Breast,” Seminars in Plastic Surgery 27, no. 1 (2013), 9. http://doi.org/10.1055/s-0033-1343989). So the metaphorical girl in Ezekiel 16 could easily have been as young as 12 years old. 
  2. Actual “full” development of the breasts does not occur UNTIL a woman gets pregnant (emphasis ours):

“[t]he entire process from the breast bud stage through stage five usually takes about three to five years, but for some girls it takes close to ten years. After these five stages, the breast is still not considered mature or fully developed. Only pregnancy brings about the fullness of breast growth and development (http://www.healthofchildren.com/B/Breast-Development.html#ixzz5OpOH7E71).

If we use the apologists’ line of reasoning, this would mean that a woman is not considered of marriageable age UNTIL she gets pregnant!  Of course, this would be ludicrous and utterly impractical.

  1. Leaving all this aside, the simple fact is that the Hebrew word used to describe the “breasts” of the metaphorical girl in Ezekiel 16:7 does not mean “fully developed” or any variation of that.  Rather, the word simply means “to be firm, be stable, be established” (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3559&t=KJV)

Indeed, every English translation of the Bible renders the word as “firm”, “formed” or some variation of that and says nothing about “full” development (and that would be ridiculous anyway).  Here are some examples:

“I caused thee to multiply as that which groweth in the field, and thou didst increase and wax great, and thou attainedst to excellent ornament; thy breasts were fashioned, and thy hair was grown; yet thou wast naked and bare” (American Standard Version).

“I helped you to flourish like a young plant in the field, and you grew tall and became wonderfully endowed. Your breasts were firm, your hair beautifully thick. And you were completely naked” (Common English Bible).

“I will increase your numbers just like plants growing in the field.” And you did increase, you developed, you reached puberty, your breasts appeared, and your hair grew long; but you were naked and exposed” (The Complete Jewish Bible).

“I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare” (English Standard Version).

“I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare” (King James Version).

“I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked” (New International Version).

“I have caused thee to multiply as the tzemach of the sadeh, and thou hast increased and matured, and thou art come to excellent beauty; thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast erom (naked) and bare” (Orthodox Jewish Bible).

“And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full maidenhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare” (Revised Standard Version).

“I let you grow like the plants of the field; and you continued to grow up until you attained to womanhood, until your breasts became firm and your hair sprouted. You were still naked and bare…” (The Israel Bible).

For more Bible translations, see here: https://www.biblestudytools.com/ezekiel/16-7-compare.html

It should also be noticed that the translations state that the girl had reached “maturity” at this point.  The Revised Standard Version (RSV) even says that the girl had reached “full maidenhood”.  This can only mean that the girl was fully mature.

[75] As commentator David Guzik explains:

“…your hair grew refers to the metaphorical young woman’s pubic hair” (https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide2017-Eze/Eze-16.cfm?a=818007).

[76] Notice that the Common English Bible, as shown above in note #74, translates the verse as:

“…your hair beautifully thick. And you were completely naked.”

Since the verse is talking about pubic hair, the translation unwittingly shows God describing the girl’s pubic hair as “beautifully thick”!  Of course, in this particular translation, it is likely that the translators did not realize the actual context of the verse.  They probably assumed it was talking about long, flowing hair on the girl’s head.

[77] The Christian apologists may protest that the verse is referring to sometime after puberty and the development of breasts and pubic hair from verse 7, since God says “[l]ater I passed by…” implying that he passed by a second time.  But this argument fails because the first time God “passed” by was when the girl was still an infant and had not yet entered puberty.  This is shown in verse 6:

“Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, ‘Live!’”

Then, in verse 7, God says that He raised the girl to the stage of puberty, and when He “passed by” later, He saw that the girl was ready for “love”.  Thus, the second occasion of “passing” is referring to the girl during puberty, not after.  This is conclusively shown in Jewish translations such as “The Israel Bible” (emphasis ours):

“[w]hen I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you: “Live in spite of your blood.” Yea, I said to you: ‘Live in spite of your blood.’  I let you grow like the plants of the field; and you continued to grow up until you attained to womanhood, until your breasts became firm and your hair sprouted. You were still naked and bare, when I passed by you [again] and saw that your time for love had arrived. So I spread My robe over you and covered your nakedness, and I entered into a covenant with you by oath—declares Hashem; thus you became Mine” (https://theisraelbible.com/bible/ezekiel/chapter-16).

So, it is clear that the phrase “your time for love had arrived” refers to the stage of puberty described in verse 7.  The apologists may protest all they want on account of modern sensitivities, but in ancient times, this was very common and not at all a matter of controversy. 

[78] It is also possible that the hadiths which describe Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) playing with dolls in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were at the time she was still living in her parents’ house.  However, this is not an important issue as even adults can play with toys, and they are not considered children as a result!

[79] https://islamqa.info/en/122534

[80] See the response to the Chick tract “Men of Peace?” for a discussion of the “torture” claim.  Interestingly, in that tract, an elderly character (“Gramps”) also made this accusation.  It seems some of Chick’s characters were just as confused and senile as he was!

[81] John 20:17.

[82] Trinitarian explanations for this conundrum are weak.  InshaAllah, we will discuss the ridiculous notion of the “trinity” in another article. 

[83] Surah Al-Imran, 3:51.

[84] https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-gospel-of-matthew-and-tanakhic-prophecies-of-the-messiah/

[85] https://biblehub.com/strongs/greek/5547.htm

[86] Surah Al-Imran, 3:45.

[87] Sahih Muslim, 1:47.

[88] It is still not clear, even after reading so many Chick tracts, why Jesus is shown without a face when he is “judging” the damned. 

[89] https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/04/islam-jack-chick-and-the-battle-for-souls-the-sky-lighter/

As stated in the above article:

“[i]n Matthew 25, Jesus (peace be upon him) was talking about the judgement of the righteous (the “sheep”) and the sinners (the “goats”).  But this distinction was not based on which religion people followed, but rather if they fed and clothed the poor, showed hospitality to strangers, and cared for the sick.  The “righteous” would be rewarded for being charitable, whereas the sinners would be punished for neglecting their charitable duties.”

Moreover, the command to do good and be charitable was given to all nations (Matthew 25:32).

 

6 thoughts on “Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls – “Unforgiven?”

  1. stewjo004

    Nice article Qb. The more I read Jack Chick I don’t think he was so much a “propagandist” so much as a fool. Before getting into the more profound remarks he makes about the African American experience (which he clearly knows nothing about) First a point you missed:

    1. Religion
    Apparently, Grandma doesn’t follow a religion so apparently, she isn’t even a Christian:

    “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:26-27)

    “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.” (1 Timothy 5:3-5)

    How are you going to make comics mocking others and calling people to Christianity when you don’t even know what’s contained within your own religious writings? But moving on.

    2. Racism
    It’s funny that Chick wants to pull the slavery card. To begin the Bible does not condemn slavery in either the OT or NT. There is also no mention of freeing slaves or that racism is intrinsically wrong (hence the belief that Jews are superior to all races and as the Christian commentator Rob said the Christians gentiles are their “dogs” aka “bitch” the Bible has implicint undertones of racism throughout). The NT basically just states to treat slaves well. Colonial Europeans used the bible to support their treatment of Africans including the notorious “Curse of Ham”.

    3. The Atlantic Slave Trade
    There was no “going through villages stealing our people” (for the most part) like Grandma claimed. The Atlantic Slave Trade basically started between Portugal and the Mali Empire as a way to combat the Songhay Empire’s monopoly over West Africa’s gold mines. Mali sold their slaves to Portugal, France, Netherlands or Britain who then sold to the Americas.

    4. White man’s religion and “set up an army who tortured everybody”
    African Americans don’t call Christianity the “white man’s religion” because of Jesus’s(as) race. It’s called that because it was, for the most part, imposed upon African Americans by European colonialist ironically through torture and oppression. (Even though I would argue the Catholics, Roman and Eastern Churches are for the most part European religions seeing how much Greek philosophy played in their theological development). Most Africans were Orisha followed by Islam followed by a minority of Christians.
    http://religion.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.001.0001/acrefore-9780199340378-e-64

    Liked by 1 person

      1. stewjo004

        @ QB
        Another note that I do think needs its own article. While Muslims were involved in the Slave Trade most people don’t have an issue with that. What the issue is is the lie that Muslims castrated African slaves. To begin yes eunuchs were common but:
        1. It wasn’t just from Africans but European, Circassian or Caucasian or Turkic were castrated well before their final purchase by Arab or Persian masters.
        2. Coptic Christians were the ones castrating slaves and Muslims bought from them for the most part. For example, the entire Ottoman Empire pretty much got the majority of its eunuchs from one Coptic Christian monastery by the name of Abou Gerbe.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s