Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Dr. James White and Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Dr. James White and Dr. Yasir Qadhi Dialogue from Grace Bible Church on Vimeo.

Addendum: (later on January 26 & 27)

Since this was a dialogue, and not a debate, and they were under time restraints, and given the emotional tension/fear/prejudice on each side of our communities, I think Dr. White did a good job of establishing a peaceful beginning relationship with Muslims and Dr. Qadhi, a beginning conversation and showing that Muslims and Christians can and should have a talk together and not hate one another and strive for peace, and not compromise on our own convictions and theology.

There was not enough time for this at this dialogue, but, in my humble opinion, I hope that maybe Dr. White can have another opportunity to ask Dr. Qadhi more on Surah 9:5 and Surah 9:29 (and Surah 8:39 and similar Hadith).  I would  ask questions about the fact that some Hadith and Islamic scholars believe Surah 9 was the last Surah revealed .  Surah 9 has two names, one is “al-Bara’ah” براءه (The Immunity) and the other name for it is “Al Touba” التوبه  (Repentance).  Other Hadith say Surah 110 is the last, and Islamic scholars say that at least parts of Surah 5 was the last one revealed.   I would ask about whether some Muslim scholars believe that Surah 9 abrogates the earlier peaceful Surahs.  Also, I would ask about the Hadith that Omar Ibn Al Khattab (the 2nd Sunni Caliph, 634-644 AD) said he heard the prophet Muhammad say that “no two religions will be allowed in Arabia” and “I will expel the Christians and Jews from the Arabian peninsula” See 6 Hadith narrations here.   The Arabic phrase I am seeing is “the Arabian peninsula” or “Arabian island” ( جزیره العرب ) in those Hadith – an area much larger than only the city of Mecca.  Sometimes I have seen that translated as the Hijaz, which is usually understood as covering the areas of Mecca and Median and in between, or most of what is known today as Saudi Arabia, but not including Yemen and Oman and areas on the coast.

Yasir Qadhi said, in regard to pagans coming close to the Kaaba and the city of Mecca, that Surah 9:5 only applied to the city of Mecca, and seems to say it was only for that time; so that is a different issue than the Christians and Jews being expelled.   But Muhammad and Abu Bakr unified Arabia and had done away with all paganism and polytheism by the end of Muhammad’s life (632 AD) and after Abu Bakr’s “Wars of Apostasy” (634 AD).  The pagans were either killed or they converted to Islam.   And I would have asked about the attacks and conquering of the Persian and Byzantine Empires and the Jiziye Submission Tax (Surah 9:29) and the Dhimmi System.  (by Omar Ibn Al Khattab, 634-644 AD, the 2nd Caliph, and many subsequent Caliphs continued their wars and Jihads.)   I would want to ask if any pagans were allowed to live in the Byzantine and Persian Empires.  (It seems that only Christians and Jews, and much later, some Zoroastrians were allowed to live.)

Dr. Qadhi made a good point about the Yazidis and that they were allowed to live in the Muslim world.  When did they begin?  Were they there before Islam came?  They are ethnic Kurds and in the Mountains, so, maybe they survived for a long time, because they were isolated and hard to even get to; and it seems that they have some development in their religion.  Dr. Qadhi said they are “Gnostic”.

When the Muslims conquered the Byzantine empire, Christians were allowed to keep their churches and keep their religion private, but they were not allowed to do evangelism or convert Muslims, or criticize Islam, or build new churches; and they had other restrictions on them that was developed as “The Pact of Omar” from the time of Omar Ibn Al Khattab (634 AD-644 AD) to Omar Ibn Abdul Aziz (717-720 AD), a later Caliph. I would ask about the details of the Pact of Omar and how it applies to today.   I would have asked about Abu Bakr’s (the first Sunni Caliph after Muhammad died) Wars of Apostasy (632 – 634 AD), that were against all the Muslims who left Islam and refused to pay the Zakat (Islamic required giving of 2.5 % of income.)  If I had time, I would try to ask about:

  1.  the Hadith that says, “War is deceit”  (this is one of them, which also says that Khosroe, the Emperor of Persia will be defeated; and “Caesar”, meaning Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantine will be defeated.


2.  the Hadiths that quote the Qur’an from Surah 3:64 (“come to a common agreement together”) but were warnings to other peoples, empires – “Accept Islam and you will be safe”  (famous letters sent to the Byzantine and Persian Emperors)   This section is toward the end of this very large Hadith.  I repeat the relevant section:

Abu Sufyan added, “Caesar then asked for the letter of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and it was read. Its contents were: “In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful (This letter is) from Muhammad, the slave of Allah, and His Apostle, to Heraculius, the Ruler of the Byzantine. Peace be upon the followers of guidance. Now then, I invite you to Islam (i.e. surrender to Allah), embrace Islam and you will be safe; embrace Islam and Allah will bestow on you a double reward. But if you reject this invitation of Islam, you shall be responsible for misguiding the peasants (i.e. your nation). O people of the Scriptures! Come to a word common to you and us and you, that we worship. None but Allah, and that we associate nothing in worship with Him; and that none of us shall take others as Lords besides Allah. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are (they who have surrendered (unto Him)..(Surah 3.64)

This is an interesting Hadith, as it gives the “Asbab ol Nozul” (“Reasons for the revelation”; or historical background, to Surah 3:64, whereas many Muslims are using this verse to establish friendly relations with Christians.  (The whole “Common Word” movement of Muslims, and the “Yale Christian Response” are some examples of this.) Yet the context is not too friendly!   This Hadith seems to imply that if they don’t embrace Islam, that the Muslims will attack in War and Jihad.  Indeed, history shows they did indeed attack both the Persian and Byzantine Empires.  Muslims say that they attacked the Byzantine Empire because the Muslim who carried the letter was killed when he was sent to give the same letter to the Ghassanid Emporer, who was a client state of Byzantine.    (that was earlier at the battle of Mu’ta, in 629 AD, earlier than the expedition to Tabuk (630 AD), which is usually given as the historical background of Surah 9:29).  Why did Omar Ibn Al Khattab (634-644 AD) seem to take those 2 battles of Muhammad as examples to keep on doing after Muhammad died?

For more on this, see here, “The concept of Dhimmi in Islam”.  

I sincerely hope that Muslims like Dr. Qadhi would be willing to answer honest and open questions in these areas and explain why the early Caliphs seemed to have taken Surah 9:5 and 9:29 as ongoing and applicable for them to carry out after Muhammad died, and beyond the areas of the Arabian Peninsula.  How are we to understand all these facts about Islamic history and how to understand them in relation to the modern Jihad movements and Islamic terrorism, is important.

Addendum 2 – Jan. 28

How are we to understand the Islamic principle of abrogation, based on Surah 2:106 and 16:101 ?

Is there consensus on that principle and if not, how can anyone know how the Muslims sources and texts and authorities are to figure it all out?

About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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13 Responses to Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Dr. James White and Dr. Yasir Qadhi

  1. θ says:

    After the conquest of Makkah and after the verse Q.9, v.5 was made known to Moslems, the famous commandment of “kill them whenever ye find them” does not come into effect.

    For instance, the heathens from the city of Ta’if were just spared by Prophet Muhammad after bargaining and signing an allegiance treaty.
    Moreover the final demolition of the idol Al-Lat (Taghiyyah) in the city of Ta’if by a newly convert Abu Sufyan Ibn Harb doesn’t include a mass-killing of the Ta’if heathens. Hence it is just a myth – if not the propaganda – that verse Q.9, v.5 was applied literally by the early Moslems.

    Tabari, History, Volume IX
    The Last Years of the Prophet
    Khalid b. Sa’id b. al-‘As acted as intermediary between them and the Messenger of God until their treaty was written, and it was Khalid who drafted the treaty with his own hand. They would not eat the food sent to them from the Messenger of God until Khalid ate of it. [This behavior continued] until they embraced Islam, rendered their oath of allegiance and completed the drafting of their treaty.
    Among the things which they had requested of the Messenger of God was that he should leave al-Taghiyyah [i.e., the idol al- Lat ] alone, and not demolish it for three years.
    The Messenger of God refused that request of theirs, but they continued to ask him to do it for a year or two, and he kept on refusing.
    Finally, they asked if he could desist for a single month after their return [home], but the Messenger of God declined to allow the idol to remain for any specified time.
    [By persisting in their request] and showing their desire to leave [the idol alone], they were seeking to be safe from the fools among them [as well as from] their women and children. They did not wish to alarm their fellow tribesmen by destroying the idol until Islam had entered their [hearts].
    The Messenger of God not only refused that request but sent Abu Sufyan b. Harb and al-Mughlrah b. Shu’bah, who subsequently demolished it.

    In addition to leaving al-Taghiyyah, they had asked that they be exempted from prayer and from smashing their idols with their own hands. The Messenger of God responded, “As for smashing your idols with your own hands, we shall let you off, but as for prayer there is no good in a religion which has no prayer.” They said. “O Muhammad, we will give in to you on this issue even though it is demeaning.”

    When they had embraced Islam and the Messenger of God had drawn up their treaty for them, he appointed ‘Uthman b. Abi al-‘As to be their leader, although he was the youngest among them. This was because he was the most zealous in his desire to study Islam and to learn the Qur’an. Abu Bakr told the Messenger of God, “O Messenger of God, indeed I have seen this youth to be the most zealous among them in his desire to study Islam and to learn the Qur’an.”

    Ibn Humayd — Salamah — Ibn Ishaq — Ya’qub b. Utbah: When they left the Messenger of God and turned toward their homeland, the Messenger of God dispatched Abu Sufyan b. Harb and al-Mughirah b. Shu’bah to demolish al-Taghiyyah.
    The two traveled with the deputation until they approached al-Ta’if, at which point al-Mughirah asked Abu Sufyan to precede him. Abu Sufyan refused, saying, “Go to your kinsfolk yourself,” and stayed at his estate in Dhu al-Harm. When al-Mughirah b. Shu’bah entered [al-Ta’if], he mounted the idol and struck it with a pick axe while his folk – the Banu Mu’attib – stood by him, fearing that he might be shot at or struck as ‘Urwah had been. The women of Thaqif came out with their heads uncovered and said, lamenting the (loss of the] idol [i.e., the goddess]: Oh, shed tears for the protector! Ignoble ones have forsaken her, those not competent in wielding swords.

    He said: While al-Mughirah was striking the idol with the axe, Abu Sufyan was saying, “Alas for you, welcome to you” When al-Mughirah had demolished it, he took its treasure and ornamentation and sent [it] to Abu Sufyan. Its ornamentation was made up of various items, while its treasure consisted of gold and onyx. The Messenger of God had previously instructed Abu Sufyan to pay the debts of ‘Urwah and al-Aswad, the sons of Mas’ud, from the property of al-Lat, so he discharged their debts.

    • Ken Temple says:

      Θ wrote:
      After the conquest of Makkah and after the verse Q.9, v.5 was made known to Moslems, the famous commandment of “kill them whenever ye find them” does not come into effect.

      Then why did Muhammad later, and then Abu Bakr eventually purge the whole of Arabia from pagans?

      Also, then why did Omar attack Byzantine and Persia (they considered the Zoroastrians fire worshipers and idolaters and gave them the same ultimatum – convert or die, and then later gave them opportunity to pay Jiziye, but most Zoroastrians were killed or converted or fled to India (today there are more Zorastrians (Parsees) in Mumbai, than in all of Iran, because they were most exterminated or converted to Islam. There are a few left in Iran, but very few. and why did all the Caliphs afterward and also keep on attacking and doing Jihad and conquering more and more territory (only until stopped) and why all of the classical commentators on the Qur’an say that it (Surah 9:5) was still in effect against pagans/idolators, and the actions of the Caliphs and wars and attacking Persians and Zoroastrians and Hindus and Buddhists – they gave them choice to convert to Islam, or pay the Jiziye (with verse 29) or they would fight them.
      Why are there no pagans or atheists or polytheists allowed in other areas outside of Mecca either?

      They kept fighting as if Surah 9:5 is still in force, into India, Turkestan (converting the Turks and fighting the Mongols and Buddhists and Shamans) until they were stopped, going to China also, until stopped. Hindu, Buddhists, and Chinese areas stopped them, but many converted and territories claimed for Islam.

      Islamic history shows that Surah 9:5 was still in effect. The only exceptions were, with verse 29, the Christians and Jews who submitted to the submission Jiziye tax and agreed to not do any evangelism or build new churches, and also had to later agree to all the rules of the pact of Omar, which was developed between Omar 1 (the second Caliph, Omar Ibn Al Khattab, 634-644 AD)) and Omar 2 (Omar Ibn Aziz, 717-720 AD).

      The only other exception are the Yezidis, and perhaps the Mandaeans , who, from what I have read, are considered a type of what the Qur’an calls the Sabians, and maybe the Yezidis are from that same general description.

      I could quote Tafsir Ibn Kathir and other classical Islamic commentaries, but it is too much to type up.

      the details that you give from Al Tabari don’t include subsequent history and what the Caliphs did and said and what the classical Islamic commentators wrote.

      • θ says:

        “Ken Temple says: Also, then why did Omar attack Byzantine and Persia (they considered the Zoroastrians fire worshipers and idolaters and gave them the same ultimatum – convert or die, and then later gave them opportunity to pay Jiziye, but most Zoroastrians were killed or converted or fled to India (today there are more Zorastrians (Parsees) in Mumbai, than in all of Iran, because they were most exterminated or converted to Islam. There are a few left in Iran, but very few. …The only other exception are the Yezidis, and perhaps the Mandaeans , ”

        You just strengthen the argument of Islamic belief that Q.9, v.5 is not absolute, doesn’t abrogate other peaceful verses either, even it is made limited by other fighting verse, namely Q.9, v.12.
        The Caliph Umar destroys Persia but spares the Yazidis (as well as Eastern Africans) not in accordance to Q.9, v.5 but on the pretext of Q.9, v.12 that permits a selective assassination of the “heads of snakes” (Aimat alKufr).
        Q.9, v.12 And if they break their oaths after their treaty and insult your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths to them; so that they might restrain.

        Islamic theologians interpret Q.9, v.12 as a selective duty of destroying the heathen empires but sparing the controllable regimes.

      • Ken Temple says:

        The Muslims still eliminated all the pagans / polytheists from all of Arabia; even after Surah 9:5 was revealed, so it seems obvious that they kept on applying it; and then when fighting Zoroastians, Hindus in India (still to this day), and Buddhists in more eastern lands, and Taoists and Chinese religions.

        Q.9, v.12 And if they break their oaths after their treaty and insult your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief, . . .

        the problem with that is most anything can be interpreted as “breaking an oath” (Yasir Arafat even used the treaty of Hudaybiyeh as an example of negotiation a treaty and planning to break it later, which he was caught saying in Arabic to a different audience than the media, but when speaking in English to the media, he said different things, acting like he was trying to make peace with Israel, etc. ) and “insulting your religion” – without accountability and ability to criticize Muslim’s government and power, if they got power, it seems to me that they just do whatever they want to when they have the power. (they interpret any criticism as “insulting your religion”. That is very bad.

      • θ says:

        Peace Treaty with the Non Moslems is never forever. It always needs a renewal or re-signing – at least every year – due to their unbelief.
        Q.7, v.102 And We did not find most of them cope with treaty, and indeed We found most of them disloyal ones.

      • Ken Temple says:

        Verses 100-101 of Surah 7 (for some more context of 7:102) speaks of Allah sealing up their hearts in unbelief. This principle is repeated a lot in the Qur’an. It also speaks of specific towns and cities; and specific peoples before in history in the wider context. does 7:102 apply to all non-Moslems all over the world?

        It shows why Muslims never trust other groups and always seem to want to gain political and military control over an area and institute Sharia and Dhimmi-ism, which are unjust to others. The lack of freedom for evangelism and debate and freedom of speech, religion (freedom for Muslims to leave Islam if they want to), etc. is a big problem in the Muslim world.

  2. This looked more like an introductory course to Islam than any interfaith dialogue to me. White embarrassed himself.

    • Ken Temple says:

      Granted, it was not deep; but it seemed to me to be a good beginning on establishing some kind of friendly and peaceful relations. (given the tension between the 2 communities) If he had pummeled him with lots of “but” follow-up questions; when he goes to the Mosque the next day, he would get pummeled with questions about all the bad things, from an Islamic perspective, that the “Christian West” has done, etc. (Even if not about Bible verses, etc.)

      Hopefully the way he approached the situation will give the context to ask more pointed questions like the ones I mentioned in my article. Did you read it?

      The other dialogue they had at the Mosque, the next evening, from what I understand, goes more in depth. I hope it gets put up soon on the web; and I hope that there will be opportunity for Muslims like Dr. Qadhi to clarify what Islam is on Jihad and the whole modern Jihadism and Islamist movements, in light of problems in our world with Islamic textually based terrorism, and the issue of the Caliphate, etc. (abolishment in 1924 and is it required for Islam to have a Caliphate?), etc. Also, I hope Dr. Qadhi will allow someone to ask him follow-up questions about specific verses (both Qur’an, Sunna, and Tafsirs and Fiq (Islamic jurisprudence rulings) that Muslim terrorists use, and about the history of the Caliphate and the Dhimmmi status of Christians in the early centuries, both before and after the Crusades.

      Why do you think he embarrassed himself?

  3. Ken Temple says:

    One of the realities of asking those questions is that Muslims usually counter with the mistakes and sins of the West (and Muslims will see all these things as “Christian”), like the Iraq War beginning in 2003 and the terrible results of that, drones killing innocent Muslims women and children; the Palestinian-Israeli issue; the Crusades, colonialism, slavery, treatment of American Indians, KKK, the one sided action that the west takes when it comes to oil, but letting other atrocities go, etc., etc. and they usually throw all of these subjects out in a scatter-shot and emotional approach that would require 2 hours on each mentioned thing/issue in order to untangle them. (these issues are thrown out speaking from their own perspective and perceptions. These kinds of discussions get out of hand and complicated.)

    • θ says:

      Not all military involvement of the West is considered bad for Moslems. Afghanistan, Bosnia, the First Gulf War, 1948 Jordan-Israel war, even in certain extent the toppling of Libyan tyrant.

      As for the radicals, we Moslems don’t deny that the extremist Khawarijites really emerged from within our Moslem world itself, and they just takfired almost early Moslems. Life is too short to figure out a restless way how to reform them, and the chance to succeed is too small.

      What’s important is, we Moslems are able to reform the West on how they appreciate Islam.

  4. Ken Temple says:

    Dr. White debated Yusuf Ismail on the subject of “peace and violence”. From what I remember, Dr. White was very disappointed in the way that Yusuf Ismail approached the subject; and the way he responded. I have forgotten the details, so I am listening again today.
    I listened to this at the time it came out; but listening again.

    The Muslims who put up the video – why did they add machine gun fire sounds at the beginning? That was not good, IMO.

  5. Pingback: Christian-Muslim Dialogue, Dr. White and Dr. Qadhi, Part 2 | Apologetics and Agape

  6. Ken Temple says:

    I finally finished listening again to Dr. White and Yusuf Ismail’s debate on Peace and Violence in the Qur’an and the Bible. I hope to find time to comment more on it later.

    Dr. White’s question at the very end was very good:

    “Knowing that God is Holy, and knowing your own heart, how do you know that you have peace with God?”

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