Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Muslims, when faced with errors in the Koran or problems with the Hadith, will often resort to logical fallacies or outright lying when debating. Don't be afraid to call them on that. There is no need for "playing nice" - just consistently be honest and direct.

Below are some of the fallacies (this is an incomplete list). A complete list of fallacies can be found here, here and here. The first one is a nice summary, with the others offering more detail. Here is a basic list (I have bolded the most common fallacies in my Muslim discussions):

Hasty generalization
Missing the point
Post hoc (also called false cause)
Slippery slope
Weak analogy
Appeal to authority
Ad populum
Ad hominem and tu quoque
Appeal to pity
Appeal to ignorance
Straw man
Red herring
False dichotomy
Begging the question
Circular reasoning
Non sequitir

Ad hominem and tu quoque
This is the most common fallacy used by Muslims . It
is basically throwing away someone's argument because of some issue with the person or person's group. Usually, they switch the attack to Christianity or Judaism, comparing the Bible to the Koran, because they think I'm Christian or Jewish. Since I am an atheist, it doesn't work. Here are some direct quotes:

"Look in you own Bible before you criticize the Quran"

"the Koran was sent down as the last and only non-man-edited/twisted Holy Book that is still in its original language without any different versions today; that is why there are so many different contradictory versions of the Bible"

"You tell me about the holes in my book first of find them, secondly tell me am I to leave a book I find solid to believe in a book where the teachers of the faith commited adultry, incest and god even had them kill down to the animals? Tell me what did the animals do to god?"

"The Bible has more atrocities than Holy Quran! Look at YOURSELF!!"

Do not be part of the sheep that interprets this as..."

Circular reasoning
This has got to be the second most common fallacy used with Muslims. Here is a great example:

This does NOT mean that anyone is judged unfairly- for justice is one of the main pillars in Islam."

Appeal to authority
This is probably the third most common fallacy. Here's an example:

these questions which you asked are basically what the orientalists and jews and christians have used for centuries and they have been dealt with by the scholars of islam in the past."

A related defense mechanism by Muslims is the "you have to know Arabic" to debate the Koran. This is an attempt at "Appeal to authority" because, after all, who knows Arabic well enough to discuss Islam but the Islamic scholars themselves! This defense, of course, fails because there are many good translations out there. A USC website has the three leading translations all in one place, line by line. When all three say the same thing - well then... Also, there are ex-Muslim websites out there, FaithFreedom.Org being a key one. In these websites, you will find details from one who can read and understand Arabic. It's also interesting that Muslims are expected to learn and memorize the Koran cover to cover, even if they don't speak Arabic. Hmmm, what does that say?

Begging the question

This is similar to circular reasoning, and used quite often. Basically, it is asserting the conclusion, hence "begging the question" of "where's the proof?" When discussing Mohamed's pedophilia, you will often hear things like

The Qur'an is flawless. It is the literal word of Allah and therefore can contain no mistakes."

" What I mean when I say that is that things did not form without a PURPOSE. Humans are too precious & brilliant to turn into dust after death. "

"this pedophelia [Mohamed having sex with a 9 year old] you are talking about is something that only by today's standard is wrong, in the time of the prophet it was common practice. "

Begging the question is often used in a very particular way when all has failed for the Muslim. An argument you will often hear is something similar to "any inability to answer your arguments about Islam are not the faults of Islam but mine as an imperfect being. Islam is perfect." Here's a direct quote:

"...expect me to know everything like a perfect academic scholar of Islam. I'm not. They don't exist. Only the Prophet (pbuh) was ever the perfect muslim. "

You see, we get a similar defense to the language defense. It is an attempt to avoid all criticism because nobody could defend Islam perfectly except Mohamed, and, well, he's dead.

Next post...Dishonesty

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