Our discussion today seemed to drift into source criticism.
We started of by looking at two Hadith – one from Sahih Bukhari and another from Sahih Muslim which describe the Prophet Muhammad advocating sexual intercourse with female servants who had just been captured by Muslim warriors. This seems to look like advocating the rape of women who had just lost their husbands/sons/brothers in a battle against the Muslims. The students dismissed these hadith as made up and explained that some hadith are not true – as they were written long after Muhammad died. Although – as I pointed these are the 2 most trusted sources of hadith for Muslims. Then they explained that why would the Prophet Muhammad say that when he respected women, and one of them found a ayah in which Muhammad states that the best among you is the one who treats his wife well. Agreed, Muhammad does say that in the Quran – which makes the hadith questionable, but then this is the most trusted hadith – so is everything else questionable? Or only those things which go against Quranic verses?
They also pointed out that Muhammad respected women and never hit or abused them. To which I said that the Quran does say you can hit women – in 4:34 – the Quran states that as a last resort men can hit their wives for crimes of arrogance (which sounds like domestic violence to subdue women, no?). The students attempted to get around this and got themselves muddled as they tried to explain how this was okay and that ‘strike’ didn’t mean ‘beat up’ just hit a little. Then I asked if women can hit their husbands – they all said no, but is that not fair? To which one of them made the point that at the time that this ayah was revealed that sort of thing was allowed in the culture – but not anymore.
Our discussion drifted toward how women are viewed in the Bible and the students bought up some quotes that seemed to suggest that women are viewed negatively in the Bible – though all were taken out of context. The hardest one for Christians to explain/defend is when Paul states that women should be quiet in church and listen to the men only. It would make more sense if you look at the background to the letter. (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
However, I noticed that one of the students was quoting Bible verses from http://www.answeringchristian.wordpress.com which quotes verses from Ecclesiates 25:13 and 25:26 – which don’t appear in the Bible. Ecclesiastes doesn’t have 25 chapters! So I wonder if the person who wrote the blog could explain their inspiration for these verses!! Nevertheless – they didn’t stand up very well.
Toward the end of our discussion – we drifted on to one of the main criticisms that Muslims have of Christianity which is that the Bible has been changed (only slightly) so that Jesus is portrayed as the Son of God. Although there is no proof for this – only conjecture, as there are manuscripts of the OT and NT in museums (as well as the recent find in the Dead Sea Scrolls) which predate Muhammad the Quran but yet aline with the current OT and NT as these are used for translation. So how could the Bible be changed? Unless it was changed before – but there’s no evidence of an one Bible or something that Muhammad was referring to. They also said – in the same breath, that the Quran has never been changed in the 1400 years since it was revealed. Ever. (so we’ll discuss that claim in more detail next week).