Rev. Dr Gavin Ashenden is sadly given to unfairness and anti-Islam sound-bites when talking about Islam betraying his lack of contextualised understanding of Islam. I will interact with a few of his comments (in red) in this piece hopefully to the edification of Anglicans online (including Rev Ashenden who I do think is a mildly spoken and likeable chap based on his appearances on Anglican Unscripted)
Gavin Ashenden, the 600 Jews, the context and Deuteronomy 20:12
Just in case you thought the question remained delicately hanging in the balance, a good Muslim models his life on Mohammed. And Mohammed dedicated much of his life to killing, enslaving. One of his more colourful escapades involved the beheading of 600 Jews he had captured.
This is obviously when the Prophet was running a state thus this does not have any bearing on the way an average Muslim lives. To somehow suggest Muslims have to follow this is just shallow, again betraying your lack of contextualised understanding of the religion of the Muslims.
For those who want a truncated breakdown of the “600 Jews”, the Banu Quraiza, you can read the following excerpts from DTT which has an in-depth article covering the event for those who want to get into the source material. Essentially, this tribe of Jews broke a pact with the nascent Muslim community and became an active threat to the Muslim state.
This is the context Gavin Ashenden’s polemical tidbits are so often missing. This was not anti-semitism nor terrorism. It was a state of war, the punishment for the warriors of the Jewish tribe was not chosen by the Prophet but was in fact chosen by a man of the Jewish tribe’s choosing who used the BIBLE to pass the judgement of execution. Quite ironic considering Gavin Ashenden is a Christian, a law which he believes was from the person of Jesus (as his church is a Trinitarian church)!
These (above) historical traditions show that the Banu Qurayza more than once supported the Quraysh enemy in attacking the Muslims in Madinah, financially, militarily, and giving them supplies of weapons against the Muslims. It thus shows that the Banu Qurayza weren’t innocent…
…The Prophet (p) besieged them for over 3 weeks at the end they surrendered in terms that they should be left to be judged by a former Jew, by the name of Sa’d bin Mu’adh to judge them on their treachery. Hence Sa’d brought out the Torah to judge them, and he decreed by the Law of Torah (Deuteronomy) that warrior-men who participated in this be killed and the rest be enslaved or freed. [Read the full article here]
Moses and Muhammad. Gavin Ashenden’s double standard in talking about Jews and Muslims
And Mohammed dedicated much of his life to killing, enslaving.
This is typical of Gavin Ashenden’s piece sadly. Propaganda-grenade lobbing.
Prophet Muhammad was in charge of a state when he moved to Medina, a state which was pursued by hostile pagans who wanted to see an end to the Muslim community. A responsible state leader would obviously dedicate time to opposing hostile forces. War in those times meant prisoners of war (slaves).
I wonder if Gavin Ashenden says the same about Moses in his dialogue with Jews. Fairer-minded Christians actually say the Prophet Muhammad is more peaceful than Moses.
Gavin Ashenden could do with reading this snippet from his co-religionist, Prof. Thom Stark, in comparing Moses to Muhammad in which he argues Prophet Muhammad is more peaceful:
” Second, his presentation of Islam is very jaundiced and reflects a lack of familiarity with Islam on its own terms. If Copan applied to Islam a mere sampling of the apologetic strategies he employs to defend his own religion, Islam would look pretty good. Third, since Christians believe that Jesus is God, and Muslims believe that Muhammad was a human prophet, it is patently unfair to try to measure Muhammad against Jesus. Much more appropriate would be to measure Muhammad against Moses, and if Copan were to do that, guess who would be the shining beacon of light? Well, it wouldn’t be the elder of the two statesmen. For one thing, Muhammad condemned the slaughter of noncombatants, women and children. Second, he embraced religious tolerance and believed that Christians, despite some theological flaws, were God’s people too, only with imperfect revelation. Moses, on the other hand, ordered and engaged in the slaughter of noncombatants, women and children, on a routine basis, and advocated for anything but religious tolerance. Copan claims that in contrast to the limited land-grab of the Canaanite conquest, Islam’s conquests were universal in aspiration. But he just displays his ignorance of Qur’an and hadith here. First, there are different periods reflected in the Qur’an in which different rules applied. In the relevant periods, Muhammad sanctioned warfare only for defense against oppressors and those who sought to limit Islam’s freedom to exercise their religion” (Is God a Moral Compromiser? A Critical Review of Paul Copan’s “Is God a Moral Monster?” [Second Edition, 2001], by Thom Stark, page 6)
This is a problem for Gavin Ashenden as the Jews believe Moses is the foremost prophet. I wonder if Gavin would be as slap-dash when it comes to writing about Jews/Judaism as he does when talking about Islam/Muslims? Would he, for instance, lazily link Moses’ treatment of the Midianites in Numbers 31 with atrocities carried out by the state of Israel? Will he link 1 Samuel 15:3 (an order which he believes is from the person of Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit through his 4th century Trinitarian paradigm) and Joshua 6:20-21 to atrocities and terrorism carried out by Israelis in the past? Or will he use Deut 21:10-14 and Numbers 31:18 and link it to some grooming gang or child abuser in the Jewish community styling it as “sex slaves”?
If not, why not? I wonder why Muslims are treated in such a special way by evangelical Christians…
The Church of England is all too often demonstrating a lack of consistency so it’s unsurprising to see Anglican churchmen use a different standard when talking about Islam/Muslims.
Taking Gavin Ashenden up on comparing TCVO Jesus with Prophet Muhammad
If you have to choose between a religious leader whose example was that he killed and enslaved people, directed that his followers take revenge on his enemies, performed no miracles and then died; or one who insisted on forgiveness for enemies, miraculously healed the sick, bringing life even to the dead, and was raised on the third day, which would prefer?
Prophet Muhammad did perform miracles and he did heal but Muslims believe in both Jesus and Muhammad – for Muslims it’s not an either/or scenario – so Muslims aren’t immaturely comparing who did more miracles and healings. That would be immature, mature and serious religious faith does not work like that – I’m surprised Gavin Ashenden (an experienced member of the clergy) is thinking like this. Muslims accept both as prophets of God.
For Gavin’s information, Prophet Muhammad did teach forgiving one’s enemies. A noticeable example of forgiveness to enemies was the conquest of Mecca where the Meccans were largely unpunished despite years of persecuting and warring against Muslims, including against Prophet Muhammad himself.
Contrast this with Gavin Ashenden’s belief that the person of Jesus ordered the killing of Midianites for vengeance in Numbers 31
1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”
7 They warred against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every male.
25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “Take the count of the plunder that was taken, both of man and of beast, you and Eleazar the priest and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the congregation, 27 and divide the plunder into two parts between the warriors who went out to battle and all the congregation.
In addition, consider the Church’s belief that Jesus will return with a SWORD for his enemies at the end of time.
Christians, like Gavin Ashenden and Justin Welby, could quite easily talk about Jesus and Christianity in the same half-baked and propagandized manner they do about Prophet Muhammad and Islam; prophet Muhammad uses less violence than the CofE’s version of Jesus (Trintiarian Church Version Of Jesus, TCVO Jesus).
TCVO Jesus allowed the severe beating of female slaves in Exodus 21:20-21 whilst Prophet Muhammad forbade hitting slaves. I wonder if Gavin will link this teaching, which he believes comes from TCVO Jesus to the reason why so many black slaves in America got beaten to pulps by his spiritual ancestors?
As pointed out by the fairer-minded Christian,Thom Stark, Prophet Muhammad forbade the killing of non-combatants (women, children etc.) in warfare. TCVO Jesus according to the Church did not. The order to kill men women and boys found in 1 Samuel 15:3 is believed to be from TCVO Jesus. I recommend folks also have a read of Deuteronomy 7. I wonder if Gavin Ashenden will be suggesting these teachings are behind the reason why Christian nations are so often dropping bombs on civilians, more often than not on poor borwn non-Christian people. So much so that rabbis Singer and Schochet even suggest the most violent people in history could arguably be those of Christendom – Gavin Ashenden’s forebears and his current co-religionists. Perhaps a Christian who wants to apply Gavin Ashenden’s attitutude to Islam equally to Christianity, in a quiet consistent moment, will say “this is because good Christians follow TCVO Jesus and TCVO Jesus spends much of his time killing, enslaving etc,”.
You say there are concubines in the Bible, not “sex slaves”…
Oh we have not spoken much about enslaving yet have we? What if Gavin was to do what the Christian anti-Islam types do when talking about this topic? Instead of using the word they use when female slavery comes up in their book, concubinage, they use the term “sex slaves”.
I wonder if Gavin Ashenden believes TCVO Jesus was encouraging sex slaves in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 or if he thinks a prophet of Yahweh (Moses in Numbers 31:18) was encouraging sex slaves?
For Gavin Ashenden’s benefit, Islam has the same concept of concubinage as the Bible does. In Islam, however, there are clear rules; you have to treat slaves well, you cannot rape them or force them into prostitution. I wonder if you can find similar rules in the Bible for concubinage. If you can, I’m all ears.
The Church’s Human Blood Atonement Belief Is Inferior To The Pure Forgiveness Of God
As for Jesus being raised from the dead, who believes that apart from Christians who believe it for theological reasons? In fact, if they don;t believe it Paul of Tarsus (who Gavin believes was inspired by the Holy Spirit inn his writings) curses them (1 Galatians 1:8-9). It’s the blood atonement idea. Muslims don’t need to believe in this idea because Muslims believe God’s forgiveness is not dependent or in need of a bunch of Jews and Romans to murder an innocent man. Muslims believe God can forgive without having to provoke, incite and wait for sinful Jews and Romans to kill an innocent man (whom is also believed to be God).
Which would you rather have, a concept of forgiveness which requires sinful deceptions and murder in order to forgive through a human blood atonement idea which no prophetic authority ever taught or the pure and simple forgiveness of God which Muslims believe in? Be honest, which is better? Gavin Ashenden, be honest to yourself even if it means you have to give up the Church and Church doctrines which you’ve dedicated your life to.
Inevitably, somebody will say “ah but those troubling Bible verses are not prescriptive”. I’d just ask you to look at what the Christians were doing in the 17th century where the Catholics were using 1 Samuel 15:3 to incite violence and killing of Protestants and vice versa. Puritans used 1 Samuel 15:3 to justify their slaughter of native Americans. It was also used by the Hutus regarding the Tutsis. Some folks do take them as prescriptive, and I’m sure other folks in the future will do likewise. It’s a scary thought.
Gavin Ashenden comparing Jesus with Muhammad
Quite often Christian missionaries erroneously try to compare Jesus with Muhammad proclaiming one is more peaceful than the other. All this despite believing Jesus will return with a SWORD for Muslims and others who don’t believe in the Trinity and Paul’s doctrine of blood atonement (meaning everybody who is not a Christian) and forgetting the Church believes Jesus was responsible for the orders in the Old Testament such as those we’ve mentioned above.
Not only does the Jesus of Islam (the historical Jesus) use less violence than TCVO Jesus but also Prophet Muhammad uses less violence than TCVO Jesus. On top of that, the Church’s concept of forgiveness involves violence and murder, the idea an innocent man has to be tortured and killed at the hands of deceitful and murderous folks in order for God to forgive is problematic. The Islamic concept of forgiveness is pure forgiveness, untainted. It does not require murderers and an innocent man to be murdered.
I’m surprised Gavin wants to go down this route. It’s immature but if he was to go down this route and did it objectively he’d be converting to Islam as clearly TCVO Jesus uses much more violence than the Jesus of history and Muhammad.
Of course, doing religious conversion based on whose prophets used less violence is silly. There’s contextualised violence as we’ve seen with respect with Banu Qurayza (the Jewish warriors who were killed) and for the Christian with respect to their TCVO Jesus beliefs, there’s divine command theory.
I’m going to leave you with a video of what the Church of England believes with respect to TCVO Jesus in the hope it gives people like Gavin Ashenden pause before trotting out the usual polemical pieces against Islam/Muhammad/Muslims.
The reality of what the Trinitarian Church believes about Jesus. Some of the things Trinitarian Christians will not tell you when they are trying to convert you to believe in the Trinity doctrine and worship a man (Jesus pbuh)
Grooming Gang Members With Muslim Names + The Anglican Church’s Problem With Christian Groomers and Paedophiles
Malcolm Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch, is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, and he thinks that Islam is becoming a serious challenge to our culture and our values. After the recent Rotherham sex scandals he addressed the widespread problem of Muslim rape gangs in a speech in the Lords;
“If we accept the views of our lead police officer for child protection, we seem to be looking at millions of rapes of white and Sikh girls by Muslim men, only 222 of whom have been convicted since 2005.
Will the Government ask the Muslim leaders whether the perpetrators can claim that their behaviour is sanctioned in the Koran and (..if not,) to issue a fatwa against it.
Firstly, Muslim leaders have spoken out in unison against grooming gangs. Gavin needs to keep up with Muslim current affairs. He’s got an excuse in that he’s preoccupied with fighting against stuff like gay marriage and female priests in his Anglican community. Corruption and a desire to follow the spirit of the age is common in the Church. To Gavin’s credit he’s at least not going down the route of some of his co-religionists who have imbibed the zeitgeist. The Church’s march to progressive values is clearly wearing him down. He’s fighting a losing battle and this may well leave him feeling a little impotent and bitter. Perhaps this bitterness and a feeling of powerlessness seeps into his writings about Islam and Muslims, hence the unfair and superficial treatment of Islam. Who knows? If only he’d look at Islam with an open heart, only good things would happen.
I would also add, it’s obvious grooming gangs are not Islamic. These gangs involve drugs, alcohol, deception, criminality and rape – all of which are outlawed in Islam.
I find Christian propaganda play around brown men involved in grooming gangs, who happen to have Muslim names, to be rather puerile. Of course this has nothing to do with Islam. To even suggest it has something to do with Muslims/Islam or Muslim culture (or even Pakistani/Somali/Kurdish/other foreign culture) says more about the person making the claim than anything else. It smacks of Islamophobia and xenophobia. I’m not saying Gavin is guilty of this, I truly hope he’s bigger than this. In my mind there is a difference in class between folks like Gavin Ashenden and “Christian” rabble-rousers linked to anti-Islam ministries in the UK like those brought to the attention of St Nicholas Church, Tooting.
I wonder if Gavin and other Christians would be consistent and ask for a Christian version of a fatwa from the Church of England leaders (including Welby, hopefully he can prise himself from his efforts to usher in gay marriage for a few moments) to make a public statement against child grooming and/or grooming gangs in the Church of England/Anglican community. I’m sure Christians like Gavin are familiar with the recent story about the Australian archbishop Philip Wilson concerning sexual abuse cover up,the report about the former archbishop of the Church of England, George Carey, and the news report which states the CofE is facing more than 3,300 allegations.
Considering what EDL, Christian Britain First and other bigots do to British Muslims with respect to grooming gangs, I wonder if Gavin will ask if any of the church grooming scandals could be linked to the fact these folks follow TCVO Jesus. Maybe he will discuss whether the parts of the Bible where they may believe Jesus had a low view of children (parts which called for the killing of children and warped interpretations of Numbers 31:18) could be leading to churchmen abusing kids due to their disregard of kids which comes from following the Bible through the Trinitarian prism. I hope Christian leaders can make a clear statement in denouncing the sexual abuse of children.
Considering the vast majority of these Christian paedophiles come from a white Christian background, maybe Gavin and others will ask if there’s something inherent in the culture which leads to so many church child abuse scandals like the poor Pakistanis/Kurds/other foreigners are being asked by xenophobes with respect to their cultures. Perhaps Gavin will ask folks like Justin Welby, Paul Golding, Douglas Murray and Jayda Fransen and Tommy Robinson if there is something in their culture that leads to so many white Christians to abuse children sexually . Let us know how that goes for you Gavin, if you do indeed decide to go out and ask those questions of white British Christian culture.
If you’re not asking these types of questions with respect to white Christian paedophiles and groomers in the church and you are asking questions like that about Muslims over criminal grooming gangs in the night time street scene then you’re a bunch of hypocrites. The CofE regularly does hypocrisy (Gavin sees that on a regular basis) and continues to do institutional racism according to Reverend John Root so I would not be surprised if there a few CofE types embroiled in that hypocrisy and xenophobia.