26 September 2009

Dr. Williams' Dishonest Scholarship

If a dishonest scholar cannot support a claim or theory with any authoritative sources, and is therefore left with either the conclusion that the facts are inconclusive or that he is wrong, he can do one of three things (remember that he's dishonest, so he can't admit he's wrong):
  1. Let the issue quietly die by pretend he didn't make an erroneous claim or theory, and hope that nobody notices. (dishonest, but can save face)
  2. Publish his erroneous claim or theory without references to any authoritative sources, and hope that nobody looks for any authoritative sources that contradict him. (dishonest, and unscholarly)
  3. Deliberately misquote or misinterpret authoritative sources so they do support his erroneous claim or theory, and hope that nobody looks up the original sources. He may also cite authoritative sources that are irrelevant to the topic at hand. (dishonest, unscholarly, and just cause for dismissal)

Of course, along with these three options, he can make legitimate scholarly quotes and citations that build his case, but don't actually support the the main claim or theory. This gives his work an appearance of credibility, but if he chooses option 3 and someone checks all of his quotes and citations, the truth will come out, and he will loose all credibility, maybe even his job.

It seems that Dr. Paul L. Williams, Ph.D. has chosen option 3 in his article Hamas Plays Host to Pedophilia: Mass Muslim Marriage, 450 Grooms Wed Girls Under Ten in Gaza (http://thelastcrusade.org/2009/08/07/hamas-plays-host-to-pedophilia/).

In my last post (http://grigaitis.net/blog/2009/09/hamas-plays-host-to-pedophilia/), I showed how this article is slanderous based on the evidence given in the photographs and basic knowledge of Islamic Weddings and Hamas dress code for women. Today I will look at the quotations and citations in Dr. Williams' article, and then give the actual quote from the original sources.

The first authoritative source I want to look at is from the Qur'an. This is what Dr. Williams claims the Qur'an says:
“If you are in doubt concerning those of your wives who have ceased menstruating, know that their waiting period shall be three months. The same shall apply to those who have not yet menstruated”(65:4).

Dr. Williams uses this quotation to support the claim that the Qur'an sanctions pedophilia. The context is a discussion on the waiting period required to determine if a wife is pregnant before a man can divorce her. The implication that Dr. Williams makes is that females "who have not yet menstruated" must be too young to menstruate.

Dr. Williams does not reveal the source of his translation of the Qur'an; however, after a little research, I came to the conclusion that he second sourced it from The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spencer. Mr. Spencer's book has been acknowledge by the critics as having a number of historical errors, relies on context omissions, and uses unreliable sources. Apparently poor scholarship doesn't prevent one from being a New York Times bestselling author. Mr. Spencer doesn't divulge the source of his translation of the Qur'an, and since he doesn't speak Arabic, his translation is highly suspect.

When asked for a good English translation of the Qur'an, Mr. Spencer highly recommends N. J. Dawood's translation, along with the translations by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall. Moslems criticise Dawood's translation as containing "inaccuracies" and "mistranslations," and suggest that the whole purpose of this translation is to "subvert the message and meaning of the Holy Book."

This is Dawood's translation of this verse:
If you are in doubt concerning those of your wives who have ceased menstruating, know that their waiting period shall be three months. The same shall apply to those who have not menstruated. As for pregnant women, their term shall end with their confinement. God will ease the hardship of the man who fears him.

This translation is the same, word for word, as what appears in Mr. Spencer's book with exception that Mr. Spencer's version has the word "yet" in it. Dr. Williams' version seems to have quoted Mr. Spencer's book word for word including the insertion of the word "yet." This means that the quote given by Dr. Williams seems to come from a modified quotation from a highly suspect source. The reason for the modification seems to be to heighten support of a weak thesis. If the thesis isn't weak, why the need for dishonest scholarship?

The other two translations recommended by Mr. Spencer are available online from the University of Southern California, along with another translation by Mohammed Habib Shakir:

YUSUFALI: Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.

PICKTHAL: And for such of your women as despair of menstruation, if ye doubt, their period (of waiting) shall be three months, along with those who have it not. And for those with child, their period shall be till they bring forth their burden. And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, He maketh his course easy for him.

SHAKIR: And (as for) those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time shall be three months, and of those too who have not had their courses; and (as for) the pregnant women, their prescribed time is that they lay down their burden; and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah He will make easy for him his affair.

Sahih Bukhari is the next authoritative source I will examine. The translator I will be quoting from is M. Muhsin Khan, whose work is also available from University of Southern California.

Dr. Williams' article uses footnotes. I will quote Dr. Williams' article in blue, but when I come to a footnote reference, I will not quote the footnote number, but the actual footnote. Following this I will quote the sources that the footnotes cite.
After Muhammad’s elderly wife, Khadijah, died in 619 A.D., he amassed eleven wives. He arranged the visits to the tents of his women around their menstrual cycles. His capacity for sexual congress seemed to be boundless. Sahih Bukhari, one of the most revered Islamic texts, recounts: “The Prophet used to visit his wives in a round, during the day and night, and they were eleven in number. I asked Anas, “Had the Prophet the strength for it?’ Anas replied, ‘We used to say that the Prophet had the [sexual] stamina of thirty [men].’”[Sahih Bukhari, 1:268]

Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268:
Narrated Qatada:
Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number." I asked Anas, "Had the Prophet the strength for it?" Anas replied, "We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)." And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven).

The footnote that Dr. Williams actually gives here is, "Sahih Bukhari, 1:268, translated by M. Mushin Khan, Muslim Student Association, The University of Southern California, 2001, http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/". This link actually takes you to the same source that I am quoting from. This is the only footnote in which he provides a link, which is interesting because, as we shall see, it's the only footnote referring to Sahih Bukhari that supports his thesis, or at least in some way helps build his case. I say this because this quote says nothing about pedophilia. According to secular mentality, this quote makes Muhammad look like a hero.

Even though this quote in a way helps build his case, Dr. Williams can't seem to resist misquoting his source to make his case stronger. The original text says, "the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)", whereas Dr. Williams misquotes it as saying, "the Prophet had the [sexual] stamina of thirty [men]".
For in-between treats, the Prophet kept a stable of concubines, including Reihana, his Jewish captive. His wives and mistresses were compelled by Islamic law to satisfy his sexual needs at any time of the day or night, and the Prophet reserved the right to enjoy them “from the top of their heads to the bottom of their feet.”[Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 525-526]

I can't find an online version of Sirat Rasul Allah, nor is it available to me through inter-library lone. I did find it on Amazon, but I'm really not interested enough to buy it. Regardless, this quote is no more incriminating than the one above. It does not in anyway give support to the thesis that Muhammad was a pedophile.
This might not appear shocking to students of the Kinsley Report, except for the case of Aisha, Muhammad’s favorite wife. Aisha was the daughter of Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s closest friend and most faithful follower. As soon as Muhammad laid eyes on Aisha, he became to fantasize of having sex with her. There was a problem with this fantasy. Aisha, at that time, was a small child of four or five, while Muhammad was a middle-aged man of fifty.[Sahih Bukhari, 5: 235]

Volume 5, Book 58, Number 235:
Narrated 'Aisha:
That the Prophet said to her, "You have been shown to me twice in my dream. I saw you pictured on a piece of silk and some-one said (to me). 'This is your wife.' When I uncovered the picture, I saw that it was yours. I said, 'If this is from Allah, it will be done."

Nothing in this citation supports Dr. Williams' thesis. Dr. Williams says, "As soon as Muhammad laid eyes on Aisha, he became to fantasize of having sex with her." In source he cites, 'Aisha narrates that Muhammad saw her twice in a dream pictured on a piece of silk as someone said to him, "This is your wife." Dr. Williams interprets what is portrayed as a prophetic dream from Allah as a sexual fantasy. He also seems to assume that the only reason a man marries a woman is to indulge in his lust.
Still and all, the Prophet wasted no time in making his fantasy a reality. When Aisha turned six, Muhammad asked Abu Bakr for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Abu Bakr thought that such a union would be improper – - not because Aisha was a mere child but rather because he considered himself Muhammad’s brother. The Prophet quickly brushed aside this objection by saying that the union was perfectly right in the eyes of Allah. Abu Bakr consented. And Muhammad took the little girl as his new bride.

When they were married, Muhammad, in his mercy, permitted Aisha to take her toys, including her dolls, to their new tent.[Sahih Bukhari, 8:151, 5:234]

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151:
Narrated 'Aisha:
I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13)

Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234:
Narrated 'Aisha:
The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.

Here Dr. Williams takes a couple of facts out of context and makes up a narrative that has no basis in the sources he cites. He suggest that Abu Bakr thought that such a union would be improper, but there is no mention of Abu Bakr in the sources cited. In these sources, it is 'Aisha's mother, not her father, that gives her to marriage at the age of nine.

Dr. Williams describes the fact that Muhammad permitted 'Aisha to play with dolls in a way that implies he is a pedophile; using the words, "their new tent." The source he cites refers to the tent as, "my ['Aisha's] dwelling place," which implies that Muhammad didn't live there. As to the dolls, 'Aisha describes the scene as if Muhammad enjoyed watching 'Aisha and her friends play. "The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty."
The marriage was consummated when Aisha was nine, and the Prophet fifty-three.[Sahih Bukhari, 5:62, 63]

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 62:
Narrated 'Aisha:
The Prophet called his daughter Fatima during his illness in which he died, and told her a secret whereupon she wept. Then he called her again and told her a secret whereupon she laughed. When I asked her about that, she replied, "The Prophet spoke to me in secret and informed me that he would die in the course of the illness during which he died, so I wept. He again spoke to me in secret and informed me that I would be the first of his family to follow him (after his death) and on that I laughed."

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 63:
Narrated Marwan bin Al-Hakam:
'Uthman bin 'Affan was afflicted with severe nose-bleeding in the year when such illness was prevelant and that prevented him from performing Hajj, and (because of it) he made his will. A man from Quraish came to him and said, "Appoint your successor." 'Uthman asked, "Did the people name him? (i.e. the successor) the man said, "Yes." Uthman asked, "Who is that?" The man remained silent. Another man came to 'Uthman and I think it was Al-Harith. He also said, "Appoint your successor." 'Uthman asked, "Did the people name him?" The man replied "Yes." 'Uthman said, "Who is that?" The man remained silent. 'Uthman said, "Perhaps they have mentioned Az-Zubair?" The man said, "Yes." 'Uthman said, "By Him in Whose Hands my life is, he is the best of them as I know, and the dearest of them to Allah's Apostle ."

There doesn't seem to be a source that suggests Muhammad  consummated  his marriage with 'Aisha before she reached puberty, and so there is no evidence that Muhammad was a pedophile. In the face of such a major fault in his thesis, Dr. Williams simply states that Muhammad consummated  his marriage with 'Aisha when she was nine, cites a couple of irrelevant sources, and hopes that nobody looks them up.
The three year waiting period was not caused by Muhammad’s concern of sexually molesting a child but rather by the fact that Aisha contracted some disease which caused her to lose her hair.[Sahih Bukhari, 8:151]

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151:
Narrated 'Aisha:
I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13)

Since he's hoping nobody looks up his sources, Dr. Williams carelessly cites the wrong source here. He should have cited Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234. In the correct source, there is no reason given as to why Muhammad and 'Aisha were engaged for three years. We don't know when her "hair fell down" and later grew again. We also don't know when their marriage was consummated. All that we know is that 'Aisha was six when they were engaged, and nine when they were married.
A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, he should not penetrate; sodomizing the child is OK. If a man penetrates and damages the child, then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl, however, does not count as one of his four permanent wives. The man will not be eligible to marry the girl’s sister. . . It is better for a girl to marry in such a time when she would begin menstruation at her husband’s house rather than her father’s house. Any father marrying his daughter so young will have a permanent place in heaven.[Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Tahrirolvasyleh, volume 4 (Gom, Iran: Darol Elm, 1990), p. 186]

This final quote and footnote is all over the internet. I found a translation of this book by Dr. Sayyid Ali Reza Naqavi, but I couldn't find anything remotely resembling the quote given by Dr. Williams. There seems to be a good reason for this: there is no fourth volume. This is only a two volume text authored by Ayatollah Khomenini in very advanced, classical Arabic, and is strictly meant to be used by high Shia clerics and their students. I'm not sure how authentic the English translation I mentioned above is because high Shia clerics and their students have no reason to share this information with infidels (English speaking Westerners).

I'm guessing that Dr. Williams simply found this fictitious quote on the internet and copied it into his article. Since he's hoping nobody checks into his other footnotes, why would he worry about this one?

The thing that convinces me the most that this quote is fictitious is the word "OK." Do you think that a high Shia cleric would put the word "OK" in the mouth of the Ayatollah? No self respecting bible scholar would put this word in the mouth of Christ or one of his Apostles; why would an Islamic scholar treat the Ayatollah any different?

I do not profess to be much of a scholar. I second source, I don't always cite my sources, and I even get some of my information from Wikipedia (my daughter in university is totally disgusted with this last one). I do this mainly out of laziness. What I don't do is misquote, mislead, and fabricate facts. I may not be much of a scholar, but at least I'm honest.

Dr. Williams is both a poor scholar and a dishonest scholar. With this example of his work, one wonders how he ever got a Ph.D. in philosophical theology from Drew University and was awarded six major academic scholarships. He must have at one time been credible. I'm not surprised that he "is currently being sued by McMaster University for upwards of $2-Million, as a result of his claims that Islamic terrorists managed to steal 180lbs of unspecified nuclear material from the McMaster Nuclear Reactor." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_L._Williams#Lawsuit]

I wouldn't read too much into 'Aisha being a child bride as Dr. Williams tries so hard to do that he resorts to dishonest scholarship. There have been many child brides in the Christian West. For the most part, these marriages were not consummated until the child became mature. Muslims can only be painted as child molesters if the same stroke is applied to Christians.

Later Addition:

It seems that it is commonly accepted, by both Muslims and non-Muslims, that  Muhammad consummated his marriage to 'Aisha when she was nine. This leads some Muslim men to believe they have a right to do the same; however, most Muslim scholars insist that 'Aisha would have reached puberty when she was nine. Since true pedophilia is sexual relations with prepubescent children, Muhammad's relationship with the pubescent 'Aisha, although it may have been immoral, cannot be ruled as pedophilia.

There have been cases in modern times of Muslim child brides, but this is usually met with public outcry against it (the public in Islamic countries is made up of Muslims). The minimum age for marriage in most Islamic countries is between 13 and 18.

In the modern West, this may seem too young, but in our past, it was not that uncommon. The patroness of my order, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, was 14 when she married the second son of Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia, Ludwig, who was 21. When Elizabeth was only 4, her family arranged for her to be married to the oldest son of the landgrave, Hermann, but he died, so she was betrothed to the second son. By all accounts, Elizabeth was a happy bride.

By most accounts, Islamic child brides are usually not happy brides. Many times Islamic brides are not happy in cultures that allow child brides. These are cultures where a man can divorce his wife by saying "I divorce you" three times.[1] Of course, once divorced, her father and brothers will not accept her back because she disgraced the family by being divorced. Since women basically have no rights publicly without a man to give her any rights, she's left to fend for herself on the streets, or, if she's lucky, her father and brothers will kill her because of the disgrace she's caused the family.

This is what should be brought to the public's attention, not bogus reporting like that of Dr. Williams. The unscholarly tactics, such as those described above, only make it harder for true scholars to get the truth out. The truth of Islam is bad enough, we don't need to make anything up.

[1] The author acknowledges that it is only the Sunni, which make up 80% of Muslims, that practice the triple talaq, and that in some Sunni dominated nations, such as Turkey, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even Iraq, which is only 40% Sunni, the practice is banned.