Black and White
Too Much

What About Islam?

I got an email this morning from a fellow who seeks a few answers. The major part of the email follows.

"... you spend a lot of time analyzing the life of Muhammad. Clearly, he performed a multitude of actions intolerable for anyone claiming to represent the Eternal Word of God, regardless of the time period he came from, what part of the world he lived in or what culture he grew up in. So I can see why moral relativism is not, at least by itself, good enough to defend him.

But the question arises, to what extent did the people of Arabia really object to Muhammad's actions and to what extent were they merely the result of his environment? The ubituitous example is Aisha. From what I've read, it seems the evidence that anyone in Arabia, pagans, Jews or Christians, objected to his marraige with Aisha due to her age simply due to her age is not there. One could argue he used revelations to gain support and intimitaded would be objectors, but even his multitude of critics never found Aisha's age objectionable. Hence, it seems that either Arabs, including Jews and Christians, had condoned sexual relations with little girls and that only modern post-Enlightment Christians have come to find it objectionable, or that ultimately it didn't really happen and the hadiths that suggest this are false. Obviously, you both reject the latter, but that would create a problematic situation for Arabs, even Christian and Catholic ones, who would have to come to terms with the fact that their culture has condoned mistreatment of women for centuries and only post Enlightment values have changed this. And although their defense of Muhmmad as a role model for all times would still fall flat, Muslim can argue that early Jews and Christians clearly did not see Muhammad's marriages objectioanble and objectioning to it today is cultural elitism. Now, I would say sex with a nine year old girl is grotesque regardless of the age but unfortunately it can be argued this results from unreasonable cultural standards.

The same goes for many issues with Muhammad and women. Critics attacked Muhammad for banditry, insulting pagan faiths and not being a convincing prophet, but never his relations to women. Marrying wifes of fallen enemies never drew objections, nor did having slave girls or polygamy. The only thing he did that Arabs found objectionable, atg least with regards to women, was marrying his son in law's wife. The changes in women's status in Arabia as a result of Muhammad seem overwhelmingly postive. Again, that's not to justify the horrific oppression of women going on right now due to his example, but merely to discuss the issue of his environement. Critics of Muhammad today suggest he was in the same league as Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Nero or Attila the Hun in terms of how he forced his people backward and oppressed them, but it seems it can also be argued his actions were more good that bad when the situation of Arabs before and after him is analyzed.

Another thing I suppose is, why do you think Muslims have been in the dark fo so long about Islamic textgs and Muhammad's character. The fact that many Muslims don't speak Arabic, and certainly not Classical Arabic, well enough to read the texts is one issue. What do you think caused it? It's indeed interesting that out of the 1.2 billion Muslims-which we must face is a huge number, there are many very smart, upstanding people in this group who look at the Quran, Hadith and Sira and see genuine beauty, wisdom and tolerance in it. Do you think it's due to mental defficiency, actual brainwashing or self denial? Sijmply a radically different interpretation that sadly not enough Muslims follow? Or simply being severely misguided by Imams who may not understand as much as they think about Islamic texts? The best case scenario is that the interpretations of the Quran, as outlined in the blogging the Quran series on the Islamocritical site Jihadwatch, are not the sole interpretation by Muslims And in the end, when all is said and done, does Islam have to be eradicated from the hearts and minds of one billion Muslims for them to live peacably? Or can Muslims modernize by critical reevaluation of texts and a mass movement to reject Islamic literalism?"

Feel free to comment. I'll reply in the coming days.



Mohammed's actions may have been relatively normal for a warlord in his day (heck, even for the average Mo). The problem comes in the fact that he is seen as the perfect man, the perfect role model, to be emulated in every way. So, everything he did, and prescribed, and proscribed, is sacrosanct, inerrant, and set out as the model for all.

Mike T

Marrying off girls at the age of 9 was, AFAIK, not a common cultural practice for any group in the other two Abrahamic religions. Jews have not ever, to my knowledge, done more than arrange for a marriage to happen, until the girl's Bat Mitzvah. Christian traditions are similar, especially in the core of classical Christendom.

Classical Liberal

Check this out...


Great points! I look forward to your replies. :)

Aussie Christian

One good reason for not finding criticism by other groups has to do with the fact that news was slow moving back in those days. There were no journalists full of hypocrisy printing their stories in local papers :)

I do not think that I ever heard of girls as young as 9 being married off to an older man who was more than 50 amongst early Christians. Any stories that I have heard, where the girls would often end up as virgin martyrs, they were in their teens at the time. Children were considered to be children.

Another point is that due to the fact that there was no printing press, and the materials of the period certainly would have deteriorated the lack of this evidence is not proof that what Mohammed did was condoned by either Christians or Jews.

On the same subject, the Jews first, and then the Christians, were too busy trying to keep their heads to be thinking about writing tomes on the disgusting behaviour of Mohammed the non-prophet.

Mohammed was influenced by both Christians and Jews, but the Christians who influenced him were in fact the heretics of their time - they were the followers of Arius. By the time of Mohammed polygamy was a thing of the past in Judaism, and was never accepted in Christianity. Even in Hinduism it would seem that polygamy was a thing of the past.

However, Mohammed was one of these sexed up individuals who pretended that God was talking to him so that he could get into the pants of as many women as possible.

I would not consider that putting women in a sack that covered their whole bodies was treating them well. Women in both Christianity and Judaism were treated well, and equally at the time. On the other hand the only other comparison is the way women are treated within paganism.

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