Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Of Joseph Smith and Ergun Caner (Part 3)
07/03/2010 - James White
The Charge that Caner could not have Offered his Muslim Prays in the School Bathroom as he said he did.—This was neither a shameful or unacceptable practice for Muslims, as some critics claim. The Islamic Hadith allows it, and it is done by devout Muslims to this day as has been pointed out by former Muslim Hussein Wario (www.husseinwario.com).
It is a shame to watch Dr. Geisler destroy his credibility by following a source as notoriously unreliable as Hussein Wario, but evidently, there is no excuse or argument that will not be called upon to defend the indefensible. I have already addressed these issues here and you can listen to Hussein Wario and I discuss this on the DL here. But for documentation's sake, let's remember what the hadith actually says:
The Hadith of Al-Tirmidhi, 242, reads: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) prohibited the observance of prayers in seven places: on a dung hill, in a slaughterhouse, in a graveyard, in the middle of the road, in a bathroom, in the watering place where camels drink and sit, and upon the roof of the House of Allah.
Likewise, we read in Fiqh-us-Sunnah 4.53a, "...they cite the Prophet's hadith: "The entire earth is a mosque except for a graveyard and a bathroom."
As I pointed out, I contacted a real Muslim scholar (Hussein Wario is a convert from Islam who, like the Caners, converted very young) who noted that some ignorant young Muslims might do this out of fear of being seen, but that it is laughable that any knowledgeable Muslim would knowingly pray in an unclean place for any other reason than to save their lives. This again brings us back to the Joseph Smith parallel: by ignoring the context of Caner's claim (that is, that he was an open, fearless, Arabic garb-wearing, praying Muslim in high school---despite the fact that none of his yearbook pictures would indicate that) and opting for the most unusual, "exception to the rule" understanding, they think to defend his statement. But when you take the original claim in its original context, the excuses offered become laughably inane.
The Charge that Caner Claimed Ramadan was Forty Days Long.—Muslims claim this feast is only 30 days long, and Caner said it was forty days. Caner cites Muslim authorities to the contrary, showing it can last up to forty days. Even the Qur’an (Sura 2:51) speaks forty days of fasting.
We are once again left breathless at this kind of excuse-making for simple errors. What Muslim authorities say Ramadan is forty days long? Why not cite them? (Possibly because they would be cited by means that would not allow anyone to look them up, like, "Hadith 957?"). This is simply absurd on its face. And the Qur'anic citation is even worse:
And remember We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence ye took the calf (for worship), and ye did grievous wrong.
For those unfamiliar with the Qur'an (and evidently, the author of this, whether Caner, Geisler, or someone else, is just as unfamiliar as most folks), this text has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the length of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month in the lunar calendar. This would be as absurd as attempting to defend the statement by someone that June has 40 days. It is another inane defense of the indefensible. Caner was wrong, and now Geisler is wrong. But by repeating this kind of silliness, one is left wondering where all the accurate information in Geisler's book on Islam came from? Must have come from Abdul Saleeb--the same Abdul Saleeb Caner claimed to debate as a Muslim, I guess!
The fact is all Muslims know how long Ramadan is for many reasons. 1) They know because it is a difficult time of fasting, one that completely interrupts one's normal schedule. As a result, you know exactly how long a lunar month is. 2) Believing Muslims look for Laylat al-Qadr, the night of power, on the odd-numbered days at the very end of the month (21, 23, 25, 27, 29). This is, again, basic Islamic theology, and Caner's ignorance of it, and Geisler's ignorance of it, is very telling. Any Muslim looking for Laylat al-Qadr, a week after Ramadan would be laughed out of the mosque. 3) There are celebrations (Eid ul-Fitr) immediately following Ramadan; the dating of the celebration is after 29 or 30 days of fasting (depending on when the new moon is sighted, where, what legal school you follow, etc.). Eid is a major celebration (check out all the Eid related items at such websites as www.islamicbookstore.com). Tell me, if a "former Christian" who became a Muslim said that Christmas was January 14th, would you be impressed with his knowledge?
The Charge that Caner Confuses the Shahada with the Beginning Words in the Surat at-Fatiha.—It is alleged that no knowledgeable devout Muslim would confuse these two. But both are part of Islamic prayers that are recited many times every day. The first is the confession and the second is a recitation.
Yes, so? I fail to see how this is even an attempted response. Yes, both are repeated many times in the Islamic prayers, daily, and that's all the more reason to wonder how Ergun Caner, raised in Columbus Ohio, who did not live with his Muslim father as a teenager (his father was not the custodial parent) could mix them up if, in fact, he was such a devout Muslim.
The Charge that His Family Did Not Disown Him When He Converted to Christianity as Caner Claimed they Did.—It is true that after the divorce he was raised by his mother who obviously had not disowned him since she was no longer a Muslim. But his Muslim father who had remarried did disown him. This is the Muslim “family” to which he referred. This was very painful to him since he lived only a half hour away but could not even speak to him.
Please note Geisler's statement, "he was raised by his mother who obviously had not disowned him since she was no longer a Muslim." So please, pray tell, why does Ergun Caner repeatedly claim that his mother took off her Muslim garb in the waters of baptism when he baptized her about fifteen years later? It makes for a great story, but why would a woman in Ohio wear Muslim garb when she was no longer a Muslim? Need documentation? We are glad to offer it. Click here and listen to a very emotional presentation by Ergun Caner. If you start around 1:00:00 you will hear lots of problems, including Caner's mis-citation of Sahih Al-Bukhari 9:57 (see below), but more importantly, at 1:05:19 he tells the story of his mother. "In the baptistry, took off her hijab." Great emotions, but---again, why would a woman who left Islam after a divorce in the mid 70s be wearing a hijab until 1991? (By the way: may I suggest interested parties download these items while they are still on the web? There is a concerted effort to remove these embarrassing things from public view, and my citing of them may hasten that process).
The Charges that He was not Turkish as He Claimed to be.--This stems from a confusion of his nationality and the country of his birth. Ergun was born in Sweden, but he was a Turkish citizen. According to Swedish law a child born in Sweden has the nationality of his father, and Ergun’s father was Turkish. Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship. When he came to America, he came as a Turkish citizen with a Turkish passport.
This one is easy: Ergun has claimed to be "100% Turkish." He isn't. I don't think it is all that important, personally, but since it is part of his "persona," the embellishment is to be expected from him.
The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims that he has had more than Sixty Debates with Muslims.—Critics challenge this statement and claim it is an intentional embellishment. But they mistakenly assume that all debates are formal. Caner lists many formal debates in the last ten years or so. But he has also engaged in multiple informal debates as well. There is no evidence to deny his claim. Indeed, given his numerous encounters with Muslims, it is reasonable to assume there were at least sixty.
This one really convinces me that Geisler is simply repeating material Caner has sent him (perhaps we are really seeing the secret memo produced back in April?). Where does Caner list "many formal debates in the last ten years or so"? Where? I have been asking this question for a long time now, and no one can answer. iTunes "interviews" are not debates, and Norman Geisler knows it. Indeed, for someone with Norman Geisler's background to defend someone who has claimed to have debated leading religious figures representing Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism, etc., in thirteen countries and thirty-five states (as Caner claimed in print) and yet he cannot name a single one, cannot produce a single video tape, audio tape, or even produce a name of someone we can contact to verify the debate, is a further indication that the term "veritas" needs to be reviewed by the esteemed professor.
I wish to point everyone to the amazing logic produced in the above citation. "There is no evidence to deny his claim." Think about it. Ergun Caner makes a claim to have engaged in a very, very public activity, that of debate. Leaders in various religions. In public. University and college campuses. Even one source says he did so in mosques (in Arabic even!). And Norman Geisler, who has written books on philosophy and logic and apologetics, defends this claim, for which no evidence has been produced by the one making it, with the line, "There is no evidence to deny his claim." When someone makes a positive claim, the burden of proof lies upon…everyone else to deny it? Really? We are left wondering just what kind of evidence one is supposed to produce to meet Dr. Geisler's standards, when Ergun Caner cannot name a single place, a single person, that we can contact? This is not clear thinking, this is blind political allegiance. And it again reminds us of how Joseph Smith is defended every day by the young Mormon missionaries on the doorstep. "Oh, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet!" "Why?" "Because, I have a testimony!" I never dreamed I'd live to see the day when Norman Geisler would be engaging in a cover-up using the same kind of thinking. Amazing.