Report on Two Debates:
Robert Morey vs. Shabir Ally & Dr. Jamal Badawi vs. Robert Morey
On the website of the Research and Education Foundation there appears a report on Dr. Morey’s debates with Dr. Badawi and with me, Shabir Ally. What is reported there is factually incorrect. Here are the facts.
Since the author of the report is not named, I will refer to him as “the REF reporter”, or just simply “the reporter” and to the report as “the REF report”.
The REF report says that during my debate I unjustifiably accused Dr. Morey of misusing the Encyclopaedia. I had shown that since that encyclopaedia gives the opposite impression than what Dr. Morey claimed, Dr. Morey so quoted it as to give the impression that the encyclopaedia actually supported his idea. Dr. Morey’s justifiable defence, according to the REF report, is that whereas he was arguing for how the word Allah was used prior to Islam, the encyclopaedia spoke of how Allah is being used today.
However, even that defence is built on falsehood. The encyclopaedia actually speaks of how the name Allah was used before Islam, how it is being used today within Islam, and how it is being used today outside of Islam. As you can see from the actual quote below, the Encyclopaedia Britannica links Allah not to any moon-god but to the God of the Bible, called El or Yahweh. This is what Britannica says:
Allah: (Arabic: “God”), the one and only God in the religion of Islam. Etymologically, the name Allah is probably a contraction of the Arabic al_Ilah, “the God”. The name’s origin can be traced back to the earliest Semitic writings in which the word for god was Il or El, the latter being an Old Testament synonym for Yahweh. Allah is the standard Arabic word for “God” and is used by Arab Christians as well as by Muslims.
Hence Dr. Morey is doubly wrong. First, he misused the encyclopaedia. Second, when I pointed out his error he could have done the honourable thing and admit his error. Instead, he invented the lame defence that now is proven to be factually incorrect. First, he misused the encyclopaedia in writing his own book. Second, he misrepresented the contents of the encyclopaedia in his debate with me before a packed live audience. Does he think that people will not check these things out? It seems that the REF reporter did not check it out. If he had done so, perhaps he might not have repeated Dr. Morey’s misleading defence.
As I pointed out in my debate with him, Dr. Morey was so determined to prove that Allah was the name of the Moon-god which was worshiped in Arabia before Islam that he went out of his way to misquote and misuse other writings to prove his contention. When we check these writings however, we find again and again that his approach is fraudulent. I do not need to repeat the examples of such deception here since they are already described on the video tape of that debate, and documented in my book, Robert Morey’s Moon-god Myth And Other Deceptive Attacks on Islam. In addition, we have just seen a clear example here from the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The REF reporter said that Dr. Badawi and Shabir had argued ad hominem, which means that instead of dealing with the ideas academically we attacked the character of the man who presented the ideas. Here the REF reporter echoes Dr. Morey himself, for he made the same claim in his debate with me. He and the REF reporter say that even if Dr. Morey is a liar his ideas may still be true.
As I have already pointed out, however, my approach has never been to attack the character of my opponent. I have dealt with his ideas in an academic fashion. I checked the sources of his information and his sources reveal his ideas to be false. The act of checking his references also revealed that he does not always make accurate quotations. Some of the comparisons between what he quoted and what his sources actually do say reveal discrepancies which throw doubt on his academic integrity. If he handled his references in such a manner as to raise questions of his honesty in dealing with the issue it is not for me to come up with the answers to such questions. It is for him and for the REF reporter to come up with answers. They have to show that the sources do actually say what Dr. Morey quoted them to say. This they have not done.
To be fair, both the REF reporter and Dr. Morey himself have tried to do just that, as discussed above. But, as I have just finished demonstrating, even this plea is based on falsehood. They have said that Dr. Morey was justified in the first place in what he used the Encyclopaedia Britannica to prove. They continued to say that my reference to Britannica did not controvert Dr. Morey’s position since it shows Britannica’s position on the use of the name Allah in a different epoch than that for which Dr. Morey was arguing. As is obvious from the passage quoted above, however, they need to try again.
It may prove helpful at this point if I further explain what is an ad hominem fallacy and what is not. One commits the ad hominem fallacy when one attacks the person instead of refuting his ideas. It is not ad hominem if in addition to pointing out the errors in the ideas one also shows how the person arrived at those incorrect ideas in the first place. If this means exposing the deceptive tactics such as the use of misquotes, then this reflects not on the expositor, but on the deceiver. It is also useful and legitimate for a debater to show that whereas his opponent poses as a scholar on a given subject, he has in fact proved inadequate or incompetent in dealing with the subject; or, worse yet, that he has proved dishonest in dealing with the subject. This of course does not prove that everything he says is wrong, since even the devil speaks the truth sometimes. But it does establish the need for caution before accepting everything he says — hook line and sinker.
It does not help their cause to accuse Dr. Badawi and I of questioning his character without cause. A quick review of the videos will show that we did not hurl accusations. We showed facts. The facts raised questions. The questions are not raised because of what we did. We just did the honest and straightforward thing of detailing the evidence for the topic at hand. The questions are raised, however, because of what Dr. Morey himself did. If he did not misuse the evidence in the first place, no questions about his character would have been raised. Dr. Badawi and I have debated with many missionaries and academics from here to England. We do not go around accusing these individuals of dishonesty. Why is this point raised in relation to Dr. Morey?
The REF report claims that Dr. Badawi and I made too much of Dr. Morey’s quotation of a hadith. Actually, it would have been a small matter if Dr. Morey had been quick to admit his mistake. As it is, he resisted the point. This is what compounded the difficulty. Dr. Morey wanted to prove that the prophet was described as being white. This would be valid evidence against the groups that promote the idea that whiteness is devilish. The point is not difficult to prove, and Muslims do not dispute the authentic hadiths which bear the meaning that the prophet had white complexion. However, Dr. Morey in trying to prove this did make a glaring error in his reference to a certain hadith in Saheeh Bukhari. This error he is not willing to take the credit for.
Since this an ongoing contention, let me set the record straight. Whereas the hadith in Bukhari said that someone saw the whiteness of the prophet’s thigh, Dr. Morey had written that the person saw the whiteness of the prophet’s penis. During my debate with Dr. Morey I pointed to this mistake as a further example of Dr. Morey’s inaccurate manner of making quotations. Dr. Morey, however, resisted my correction. He insisted that the hadith said exactly what he wrote. He even motioned to one of his informers who sat in the audience, an Arabic-speaking Christian, who promptly stood up and testified that he had “checked it this morning.” Thus Dr. Morey established that both in the original Arabic and in the English translation the text said what he quoted and not what I claimed. This made it necessary for me to use the transparency projection system to show the audience a page from the actual book and settle the issue. The page showed that both in the original Arabic and in the English translation the text said “thigh” and not “penis.”
As it turns out, however, Dr. Morey had been using an earlier edition of the translation which due to a typographical error had the word “thing” instead of “thigh” in the English translation. Not knowing the Arabic, Dr. Morey did not detect the mistake, and used it as a basis for further substituting the word “penis” for “thing.” Thus in his book The Islamic Invasion Dr. Morey wrote that Anas “saw the whiteness of the penis of Allah’s Prophet” Of course, Dr. Morey is not to blame for the misprint in the translation he was working with. However, it is clear that he is substituted one word for another and still kept the quotations marks to disguise the substitution. This or course is not right. Quotation marks should only surround actual quoted words. Paraphrases should be identified as one’s own words. Dr. Morey needs to clean up his act.
It also becomes clear from this that Dr. Morey needs to rely on competent Islamic scholars to decipher the Arabic texts he is working with when he writes about Islam. His Arabic-speaking informant in the audience that day did not prove to be of much help. I wonder how he could claim that he “checked it this morning.”
The REF reporter claims that even after Dr. Morey placed his page on the overhead projector for everyone to see the word “thing” in the text Dr. Badawi still maintained that it said “thigh.” The reporter hides the fact that Dr. Badawi was referring to his own page which he also showed on the overhead projector. Via this camouflage the REF reporter deceives his readers into thinking that Dr. Badawi could not see that the word was “thing” on Dr. Morey’s page. Such a shameless misrepresentation of the facts is very unchristian.
I wonder who the REF reporter is. Is he really Dr. Morey writing in the third person?
Did the REF reporter not see that on the page displayed by Dr. Badawi the word was thigh in both Arabic and English? And if the REF reporter does not know Arabic can he or she read English? Then why does he continue to pretend that Dr. Morey was correct?
From what was reported, one gets the impression that Dr. Badawi and I have been very interested in discussing the word “penis” whereas innocent Dr. Morey repeatedly denied having such interest. Both Dr. Morey and the reporter seems to have missed the point. We were not interested in the word. We were interested in showing how Dr. Morey misuses his sources. And this is not the only evidence of such a misuse. In response to another such example which Dr. Badawi clarified, all Dr. Morey could claim is that he was typing at two o’clock in the morning thus the mistake is excusable. Such mistakes, however, are not of the topographical nature that tiredness would account for. They are examples of inserting emotive expressions into quoted material to bring out specific points. Since the points could not be made from the text, Dr. Morey inserted the points in his words. Is this how academics go about their business?
According to the REF reporter, some Muslims shouted death threats and foul language in an attempt to interrupt Dr. Morey. How could this be true? I know that this did not happen in my debate–I was there. And I know that it did not happen in Dr. Badawi’s debate–I reviewed the entire tape. Which debate is the REF reporter referring to? As far as I can tell from the debates which are the subject of this essay, the Muslims saw truth overcoming evil both times. Naturally, they shouted “Allahu Akbar,” Allah is the greatest, in glorification of God for the victory of truth over falsehood. This I recall had visibly shaken one of the moderators during my debate. But he did not claim anything more than the right for Christians to shout “Halleluyah” (praise be to Yahweh) in response.
The REF reporter suggests that Dr. Morey is willing to debate Muslims if only we could present a debater who would deal with the issues academically. But who is he kidding? We did in fact refute Dr. Morey academically, as I have continued to do even in this essay. On the other hand, Dr. Morey failed to refute Islam academically. Instead, he resorted to his own newly invented idea about the origin of the name Allah to sow doubt. And that we had a good time of refuting academically, didn’t we? Is Dr. Morey hesitating to debate now because he is waiting for an academic scholar to represent Islam? Or is it that he hesitates to debate the already available academic representatives? I respect the fact that he has learnt from past experience to not rush into another debate. Islam stands irrefutable. Allahu Akbar.