Monday, May 17, 2010

Amusing Antagonists

I can't help but be amused by the recent reporting about Ergun Caner--a man who claims to be an expert on Islam, having converted to evangelical Christianity in his youth. He's even written a few books on the subject, one of which I made a point to particularly refute in a separate blog (although that "project" of mine didn't get very far since I got bored/lazy/busy.) But in his books he kind of exposes himself (to Muslims, anyway) as not being an accurate authority. Not that Muslims would read his books to learn about Islam--he actually writes for Christians to help them guide Muslims to apostasy.

But anyway, when I saw this article today I had to stymie a laugh. A similar article has been published by the Associated Press saying much of the same. In short, he's being investigated to see if he's telling the truth about his personal biography. Personally, I don't think it's that big of a deal since I thought that a person would have to be pretty naive to take him seriously in the first place. And maybe he just made a few mistakes when recounting his past in different places so that the story became a little convoluted in the public view.

But it is fascinating, and I encourage you to take a look at this website to learn more about Caner's distorted past. It's actually pretty funny, I think. The man behind the site has done a fair job of listing all the "issues" with Caner's claims about himself and his family--many are the same things I recognized years ago just in reading his books. But the brother does a good job of organizing them and calling him out.

Although I'm sure there are some people who genuinely convert to Christianity from Islam, some of the prominent preachers and writers who claim to have been Muslim do seem suspicious, including the Caners. So I do find it amusing to see them get called out and questioned. It doesn't really have much of an effect on Muslims, but rather the Christians who have been listening to these guys and believe what they say about Islam. Because in fact they really do know Christianity very well and have studied it extensively--it makes them well qualified to be Christian preachers, right? It's just their knowledge of Islam which is lacking, making them ill equipped to explain Islam to Christians or anyone else.


Mohammad Khan said...

Well done :)

Amy said...

Ah, but the credit goes to you, I think.

Tim said...

I see from the link there that Caner is Turkish on his father's side - in that light, I'm not terribly surprised. I know several Turks, particularly from Istanbul and environs, that claim to have been Muslims in their past but were at best secular cultural Muslim, lacking any real Muslim identity. I don't know much about Caner's background - where he grew up, the formative experiences in his life, etc - but "Turkish ex-Muslim" isn't exactly a big shock to my worldview.

I realize that much of Turkey is in fact a bit more invested in its religion than Istanbul, so please don't assume I'm painting Turks with a broad brush. I don't have any evidence beyond anecdotal, so I'm not trying to make statistically rigorous claims here. :)

Tim said...

Er, 'secular cultural Muslims' plural, that should say.

Shamsuddin Waheed said...

As salaamu 'alaikum wa Rahmatullaah,

For many years I have been following the writings and speeches of these ex-Muslim turned evangelic preachers. As a general rule, at least from my own observations, they exaggerate-if not out right fabricate- their own previous religiosity and knowledge [i.e. when they were Muslims] and are interested in publicity and wealth only. Take Walid Shoebat, who claims to have been a "terrorist" working in the USA who "found Christ". Anyone following his speeches with a bit of Islamic knowledge can see that he does nothing except lie. His speeches at Evangelical Bible gatherings, in which end-time prophecy is the main theme, are full of holes and inaccuracies about the Qur'an, Islam, and even the Arabic language[ even though he's a Palestinian]!!

None of this is surprising, because it happened in the time of the Prophet [Sall-Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam] as well, and is mentioned in the Qur'an. One reference reads "Surely, it [Qur'an] is a Noble Qur'an, in a guarded scripture, None touch it [i.e. get any guidance from it] except the pure, [it is ] a revelation from the Nourisher of the Universe, is this such a narration that you dare ridicule, and that you make money by lying about it?" [56:77-82]

These sort of folks only do spiritual harm to themselves, and actually prompt some folks to investigate Islam for themselves, so we can, as you suggest, just laugh at them, live Islam as best as possible, and have faith in Allah's promises, as he also said "And they attempt to extinguish Allah's light, but Allah will perfect and complete his light, regardless of the opposition of the rejectors" [Q 9:32]


Kadaveri said...

Assalamu `alaikum.

The Turks from Istanbul are not really that secularised. The thing is the "secular Turks" in Istanbul are not spread evenly through the city but tend to group together in 'ghettos' like Florya and Beyo─člu; which also happen to be the only places where the vast majority of foreigners visitors to Istanbul go so many get the idea that these places are representative of the city when they're not. This is why Istanbul keeps (mysteriously to many Westerners) electing 'Islamist' mayors and MPs.

Anonymous said...

Ergun Caner is a joke, with surprisingly good arabic pronouniciation.

I can't imagine why it should be a big deal if anyone converted from one religion to another.

Oh wait; doesn't that merit the death sentence in islam?

Amy said...

Ergun Caner is a joke just as much as his "arabic pronunciation" is. I could care less about his conversion--he's the one who makes it a big deal, fabricating a fantasy along with it.

Anonymous said...

Yet you bother to call him an antagonist?

I don't think much of Ergun Caner, now that you have brought him to my attention.

Let me ask you another question, I hope you will answer.

How would you feel if, say, a close muslim friend were to convert to christianity?

Would it bother you?

How does it make you feel if a close christian friend were to accept islam, would you celebrate?

And if so why?

Amy said...

He's an antagonist because of his relationship with Islam. (Antagonist, noun: a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary.)

He is opposed to Islam, and struggles against it->antagonist.

I can't imagine any "close Muslim friend" converting to Christianity. I can't imagine it happening, so I can't speculate on how I would feel. Most Muslims I know would sooner be atheists than Christians--their entire belief in God would have to be shattered for them to leave Islam. If someone I knew as a Muslim chose to become a Christian, I think I would pity them more than anything else.

But I celebrate quite often when someone accepts Islam--alhamdulillah, I see this happening on almost a weekly basis, someone accepting Islam. Usually they're people I don't even know, and still I celebrate.

Anonymous said...

I can understand all your feelings.

I would like to comment regarding muslims becoming athiests rather than christians.

I find that curious but true as well.

I grew up in a not strict islamic household, salah, roza were the norm, but we listened to music and watched Bollywood movies(which some muslims consider unislamic), oh and we wore hijab.

Today, I am agnostic, at best.

I wouldn't consider christianity, only because to me it offers nothing more or less than islam.

I take a more personal approach to God, something that I could not find in a "canned" or rather "bound" (as in kitab) version of religion.

Anonymous said...

I have mulled over this in my mind, and I suspect the reason why people celebrate another persons conversion to their faith, is because in their minds it somehow validates their religion.

It's a dangerous road to go down, when a person is unaware of the motives for their actions.

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