Thursday, March 4, 2010

TurretinFan and Islam

I have recently noticed that there has been a considerable amount of internet chatter concerning Dr. Ergun Caner, President and Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (BIO HERE).

I first became aware of this new round of assaults directed at Dr. Caner via James White’s Dividing Line program (03-02-2010). Just days before this program, James had devoted a rather large blog diatribe (HERE) at Dr. Caner. Though I certainly have no inherent problem with pointing out some of Dr. Caner’s blunders/errors concerning Islam, when done in an objective manner (and there are some interesting new details that have been brought to light), I cannot help but think that much of the ‘heat’ is of a personal nature—a Baptist ‘soap-opera’ if you will, Baptist vs. Baptist—i.e., a vendetta.

Now, after a bit of online research, I discovered (earlier today), that our old friend TurretinFan (hereafter, TF), has entered into the fray, and, interestingly enough, in defense of Dr. Caner (as it pertains to Dr. Caner’s claim to be an ex-Muslim). TF, in his 02-24-2010 thread links to a Muslim apologetic site that seems to be one of the primary sources for much of ‘fuel’ that is being utilized by Caner ‘stalkers’.

We can certainly applaud TF’s efforts to defend Dr. Caner; however, TF’s defense has some ‘problems’ that need to be corrected (IMO). In his 03-02-2010 thread TF wrote:

In one video that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner claims that both the Sunni and Shia Muslims believe that a caliph named Mahdi disappeared and is hidden somewhere, still alive. According to FxM, this is something believed only by the Shia Muslims. FxM is insistent that no devout Sunni Muslim could be unaware of this difference in belief between the Sunnis and the Shia Muslims.

Result: Again, this seems like a relatively trivial error. The main point of what Caner was talking about was the belief itself. Although he may (as far as I know, he did) erroneously attribute a Shia belief to the Sunni, this doesn't appear to be a significant error.

This may seem “like a relatively trivial error” to uninformed Christians, but I sincerely doubt it is “trivial” to most practicing Muslims. Dr. Caner (in the YouTube snippet) makes some significant errors:

First, Dr. Caner mentions a “Muhammad ibn Haniaf” (i.e. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah), and claims that “he lived about 870, 880”.

Wrong: Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah died 700/701 (though the Kaysāniyya would say later that he went into ‘occultation’—i.e. hiding). [Dr. Caner is probably confusing Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah with Abu’l Qāsim Muhammad ibn Hasan (b. 868), the 12th Imam of the ‘Twelver’ Shia sect.]

Second, Dr. Caner states that he was “one of the Caliphs”.

Wrong: Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah was never a Caliph, but the Kaysāniyya, under the influence of Mukhtār ibn Abū’Ubayd ath-Thaqafī, taught that the Imamate was transferred to him after the death of the 3rd Imam Husayn.

Third, Dr. Caner said, “the Sunni and the Shia believe that the Mahdi disappeared into the caves, he did not die, he is waiting”.

Wrong: The ‘occultation’ of the Mahdi is one of the core beliefs of many of the Shia sects (most importantly, the largest Shia sect—the ‘Twelver’), but it is a doctrine repudiated by the Sunnis.

Summation: Dr. Caner certainly gets some significant details wrong; details that may undermine his credibility as an Islamic “scholar”. IMO, such errors need to be addressed, and not swept away as “relatively trivial”. However, I must point out that one should attempt to keep such corrections on an objective level, and not turn such ‘blunders’ into some sort of personal vendetta.

Grace and peace,


UPDDATE: Ken Temple has added additional information concerning the quote from the Caner’s Unveiling Islam that Ken and I explored, in the combox of this thread, with this NEW POST at the Beggar’s All blog.


Ken said...

The Sunnis also believe that a Mahdi (the rightly guided one) will appear at the end of time with Jesus (Isa) (some say the Mahdi is Isa); but you are right in that the Sunnis don't believe he is in occultation (disappearance into another dimension and kept alive) and will appear at the end of time out of the well in Qom, Iran. The Twelver Imam sect of Shia Islam think he disappeared down a well in Qom, Iran, and will reappear at the end of time. the Sunnis also don't believe the Mahdi is Abu’l Qāsim Muhammad ibn Hasan (b. 868), the 12th Imam of the ‘Twelver’ Shia sect.

Ken said...

Ergun Caner is making a lot of mistakes in the excitement of his preaching style.

The most recent one about doing Salat (Salah) (Muslim prayers) in the bathroom is bad. Also, the comment about "sand" is dumb, Istanbul is a concrete modern (and ancient)city. But he was born and grew up in Sweden.

The Turks and Iranians don't call the prescribed prayers "Salah" or "Salat", they call it "namaz". (Iranians use the plural "Salavat" for sending greetings to the prophet Muhammad). This is not a big deal, for explaining all these details in a sermon is superfluous; but it does seem that he is exaggerating and adding details for excitement.

Dr. White and Turretinfan have legitimate points that are glaring- especially the listing of 3 people Caner says he debated and one of them is a Christian, "Abdul Saleeb" (meaning, "The Slave of the Cross"); and the other two he did not debate and yet, Dr. White did debate those two.

Caner probably threw in his name because he disagrees with him on using the word "Allah" for God.

But he also made a big mistake in his book, Unveiling Islam, where he said something to the effect of that Arabic speaking former Muslims no longer use Allah, but Khuda. No. It is Iranians (Persians, Farsi Speakers) that don't use the Arabic word, "Allah".
the Persian/Farsi/Urdu/Bengali word for God is "Khoda".

I would have to dig out the book and find the reference. (It is somewhere in my attic.) I hope he corrected this mistake with his updated edition.

Arab Christians use the word "Allah" for Elohim (Hebrew OT) and Theos (Greek NT) in their translations of the Bible. they do not repudiate the word and use "Khoda" instead. But Iranians do; even before their disillusionment with Islam. They like their own language.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I was sincerely hoping that you would see this thread and comment—thanks much!

Dr. Caner is, well, for lack of a better word ‘interesting’. Hopefully he will be able to separate the factual/objective criticisms that have been leveled at him from the personal/subjective ones, and learn from this to be more guarded and accurate in the future.

BTW, I have read his Unveiling Islam (co-authored with his brother I believe) and did not remember the serious blunder you mentioned. Later today, I am going to pull the book down and look for it…

Grace and peace,


Ken said...

Thanks David,

Turretinfan showed that a Sunni Muslim did say that under certain circumstances it is ok to do the Salat (namaz) in the bathroom. (If in prison, if big and spacious, etc.)

Islamic laws have lots of ifs and conditions and "buts".

about Allah and Farsi and Khoda in his book - let me know when you find it; he may have changed it in a new edition. I have an older edition, but don't want to go in my attic and try to dig for it. (right now)

the comment that Caner made is under his discussion of the name Allah.

Both Turks and Iranians do not like the word. They both have their own word
Khoda = Farsi

Tanri = Turkish

there is lots of racial and ethnic prejudice between the Arabs and Iranians and Turks.

Iranians reject "Allah" even more now after 31 years of the harsh Islamic Khomeini regime. They are disillusioned with Islam itself and all the harsh punishments and rules and lack of freedom.

They are more open to the gospel of Jesus Christ than ever before in their history!

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

A good deal of interesting information in your last post—thanks!

You posted:

>>about Allah and Farsi and Khoda in his book - let me know when you find it; he may have changed it in a new edition. I have an older edition, but don't want to go in my attic and try to dig for it. (right now)

the comment that Caner made is under his discussion of the name Allah.>>

When I got back from a brisk bike ride this afternoon, I pulled Caner and Caner’s Unveiling Islam down from the shelf and went to the chapter on Allah (chapter 6 – “Allah: Names of Terror and Names of Glory” pp. 102-119, 1st edition 2002) and began reading; on page 106 they wrote:

“Many Arabic speaking Christians use the Persian term khudu for God, rather than cause confusion by calling Allah by the name God.”

I completely missed this in my first reading—thanks much for bringing it to my attention. I am sure puzzled by the Caner’s, and sincerely wonder where/how they came up with this, for I have never heard anything like it. I have a number of Persian friends (Bahai’s) in Canada who speak both Arabic and Persian, and during our discussions on Islam they always used Allah when referring to God; now if some Persians are not using khudu, why oh why would, “Many Arabic speaking Christians use the Persian term khudu for God”?

Any further thoughts on this?

Grace and peace,


Ken said...

Hi David,
Yes, you found the quote I was referring to.

No Arabic speaking Christian uses Khoda ( or Khudu ? ). I never understood why he wrote it “Khudu”.

Glad to see you took out the “n” - There is no "n" in Khoda (Khudu); and maybe Pakistanis pronounce it "Khuda" . Iranians say “Khoda”. The “kh” is like the German “Achtung” (the ch here)

Arabic speaking Christians have no problem with "Allah" for God (Elohim in OT and Theos in the NT) and Rabb (Yahveh, Adonai, Kurios) for Lord.

Most Iranians are disillusioned with Islam. But, strong Iranian Muslims use "Allah", but usually they are those that are very, very strong. (Those that follow the philosophy of Ayatollah Khomeini and Ahmadi Nejad.)

Most Iranians I know do not like the term "Allah" because it reminds them of the Arab invasions and force and Jihad under Khalif Omar, starting around 638 AD (?) and beyond and the current Islamic Regime, started by Khomeini in 1979.

Your Bahai friends are interesting; I never met Iranians who prefer "Allah" as it is an Arabic word, considered a foreign word forced on them by the Arabs.

Sometimes Iranians use “Allah” in standard Muslim Arabic phrases, such as “Inshallah” (if God wills) or “Al Hamdolellah” (Praise God) or “Allah O Akbar” ( God is great.)

. . . why oh why would, “Many Arabic speaking Christians use the Persian term khudu for God”?”

The Caners seem to be confusing their facts. What I think they mean is that Persian speaking Iranian former-Muslims who come to Christ do not use Allah, but Khoda. But even non-Christian (nominal Muslims) Persians prefer “Khoda” to “Allah” anyway, even if they are not Christians. It is an ethnic, language issue.

The word, “Allah” reminds Iranians of Omar, the Arabs, Jihad, force, and the Khomeini regime. Some Iranians have a celebration where they make a puppet (effigy) of Omar and stick fire crackers in his mouth and blow him up and cut him up into pieces. The Shiites hate Omar (Sunni) because he attacked Iran in Islamic Jihad and forced the Iranian people to become Muslims.