Muslim apologists routinely employ a host of logical fallacies in their polemics against Christians. Unknowingly, they invalidate their own arguments. Often they unwittingly shoot themselves in the foot with their faulty reasoning and worse, teach their followers to repeat their erroneous arguments. Of course many times Christians too are guilty of indulging in such logical fallacies.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Circular Reasoning Fallacy.
The Quran is true because Muhammad said so. And Muhammad is true because the Quran said so.
The Quran is Allah’s words because Allah said the Quran is his words.
Muslims make a claim using its own conclusion as its premise and this goes on round and round, hence it’s name. As you can see it takes the form of: If A, then B, if B, then A and can be as silly as saying, “I’m a genius because I say I’m a genius.” Muslims do not see that their argument actually gets nowhere if they just end up where they began!
Argumentum Ad Populum (Bandwagon Fallacy)
Islam is the fastest growing religion. Therefore, it must be true.
Many people are converting to Islam. Therefore, Islam is true.
Most Muslims are peaceful. Therefore, Islam is peaceful.
This fallacious argument concludes that a proposition must be true because many or even most people believe it. Muslims think that popularity is evidence of validation or truthfulness. It isn’t. Once upon a time, everyone believed that the sun revolved around the earth. It doesn’t.
The Straw Man Fallacy.
You believe in 3 gods, so you are polytheist. (We don’t believe in 3 gods!)
God had sexual relations with Mary and produced a son. (No, He didn’t!)
This is perhaps one of the most common fallacies that Muslims indulge in. Distorting and misrepresenting arguments in order to make it easier to defeat. Instead of debating the actual argument, Muslims attack a bundle of lifeless straw they themselves create, pretending that the bundle of straw represents the position of their opponent.
The trinity is not 3 gods. The very basics of the doctrine of trinity teaches that there is one God! We have no such teaching or verse or doctrine or belief. When you say we do, you’re simply inventing a muslim strawman.
It’s important for you to understand what your opponent ACTUALLY believes so that you can effectively refute or counter it. It is not only pointless but foolish to attack something that others do not believe and expect them to defend your argument!
Red Herring Fallacy
This is another common tactic Muslims utilize when things get a little dicey especially when trying to respond to difficult questions. It’s an attempt to mislead or distract from the relevant topic at hand. Instead of answering the question, the Muslim turns around to attack an unrelated issue to deflect the attention.
For example, I have seen when questions about Muhammad’s sexuality were asked, the response was “where did Jesus say I am god,” introducing an irrelevant issue that has no logical bearing on Muhammad’s sexual exploits.
The Fallacy of Equivocation
Equivocation happens when a word, phrase, or sentence is used deliberately to confuse, deceive, or mislead by sounding like it’s saying one thing but actually saying something else. There are many examples with words like gospel, muslim, even the word god.
GOSPEL means Good News. In Christianity it is the good news of and about Jesus Christ, which was later put in writing by His followers.
However, in Islam, “gospel” (injeel) means something else entirely. Muslims believe it is a revelation/book dropped on Isa. When a Muslims asks a question about the gospel, they actually have their “injeel” in mind!
“A MUSLIM is one who submits to God. Since all prophets submitted to God, therefore all prophets are Muslims.”
(Notice how the word “muslim” is used as a noun in the first instance and then used as verb in the second. It’s like arguing: A dress is a woman’s garment. Since Mr Abu DRESSED himself therefore it means he wore a dress!) The same word can have two meanings and thus open to abuse to manipulating in misunderstanding the meaning.
If I say, “Am I getting under your skin?”, you should not interpret it as meaning that I am asking if I am getting into your epidermis and subcutaneous tissue!”
Another example: Muslims say, “We believe in Jesus,” But the “Jesus” of the Quran is not the Jesus of the Bible. Islam preaches a different Jesus. Thus it is erroneous for Muslims to tell Christians that they believe in Jesus, too.
When a Muslim says, “Christians and Muslims worship the same God,” again he is committing the fallacy of equivocation. While Christians worship the Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Muslims worship a Unitarian deity. Obviously, they are worshipping different gods.
The Fallacy of False Assumptions
In logic as well as in law, “historical precedent” means that the burden of proof rests on those who set forth new theories and not on those whose ideas have already been verified. The old tests the new. The already established authority judges any new claims to authority.
Since Islam came along many centuries after Christianity, Islam has the burden of proof and not Christianity. The Bible tests and judges the Quran. When the Bible and The Quran contradict each other, the Bible must logically be given first place as the older authority. The Quran is in error until it proves itself.
Some Muslims violate the principle of historical precedent by asserting that Islam does not have the burden of proof and that the Quran judges the Bible.
Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, came and made all kinds of claims in the 19th century ~ that an angel allegedly visited him, and gave him revelation for a new religion, new scriptures, and so on. The burden of proof is on him to prove every one of his claims. Do we abandon what is already established to follow him? Based on what evidence? Just because he said so?
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, claimed that Jesus travelled to Kashmir, India. Should we just swallow his claims? Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has to prove it! Is there even one shred of historical evidence for this fanciful fable?
There is a Japanese legend that Jesus supposedly went to North Japan became a potato farmer, got married, had 3 daughters and died at an old age. His grave is still there for tourists to visit!
Likewise, Muhammad appeared in the 7th century and made claims about Jesus and all the prophets that contradict the Bible. The burden of proof is on Muhammad!
The Fallacy Of False Analogy
Comparing two things or concepts as if they are parallel when they are not really the same at all. Because a false analogy is drawn between Islam and Christianity, some Muslims think that any argument which refutes the Quran will likewise refute the Bible; and any argument which refutes Muhammad will also refute Jesus Christ, etc…
For example, many Muslims claim that Muhammad and all prophets were sinless. Thus when a Christian points out all the immoral things that Muhammad did (mass murder, child abuse, lying, etc.), the Muslims will say, “If you are right, then you must also reject your biblical prophets for doing wicked things as well.”
The root problem is that the Muslim concept of prophethood is not the same as the Christian concept of prophethood. We believe that prophets are sinners like anyone else. Thus while Islam is damaged by the sins of Muhammad, Christianity is not jeopardized at all by sins of the prophets. The Muslim is guilty of setting up a “false analogy.”
There is a ton of examples with words and concepts like God, Jesus, revelation, scriptures, prophets, sin, heaven, salvation, etc. All these and many more have different meanings in Christianity and Islam. You cannot talk about one and think it means the same thing in the other.
An example: Muslims believe their scriptures is the exact speech of Allah. The Bible is not. It never was. But Muslims conclude that means the Bible is not scriptures. Why? Because they have set up the fallacy of false analogy.
The Muslim assumes that Christians have the same concept of revelation as in Islam. A man in a cave seeing things and hearing voices….that is their standard!
[Note: According to Islam, the Quran was written in heaven by Allah and has no earthly sources. When we prove that it does have earthly sources, this threatens the entire inspiration of the Quran. On the other hand, the Bible does not claim that it dropped out of heaven one day. It openly quotes from earthly sources. It uses pre-existing sources without any difficulty whatsoever, thus while the Quran is threatened by historical sources, the Bible is actually confirmed by them.]
Whenever a Muslim responds to a Christian attack on the Quran, Muhammad, or Allah by flipping the argument around and applying it to the Bible, Jesus or the Trinity as if Islam and Christianity either stand or fall together, he is guilty of the fallacy of false analogy. Islam can be false and Christianity be true at the same time.
The Fallacy of Irrelevance
When you introduce issues which have no logical bearing on the subject under discussion, you are using irrelevant arguments.
“The Quran must the Word of God because the text of the Quran has been preserved perfectly.”
“The Quran must the Word of God because it contains scientifically accurate statements.”
“The Quran must the Word of God because of it’s superior eloquence in language.”
Logically, it is irrelevant whether the text of the Quran has been preserved because preservation does not logically imply inspiration. A book can be perfectly copied and perfectly preserved without implying it is inspired or from God.
Likewise, just because a book mentions scientific facts does not mean it is inspired or from God.
When a Muslim argues that science “proves” the Qur’an, this actually means that he is acknowledging that science can likewise refute the Quran. If the Quran contains just one scientific error, (stars are missiles?) then the Quran has condemned itself! Verification and falsification go hand in hand.
Muslims argue that just because a word sounds like another word in another language that means it must have the same meaning. The phonetic sound of a word should not be used to twist its meaning. This is silly.
The most popular argument that falls in this fallacy is the claim that the name Muhammad is found in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament because the word “machmad” sounds like Muhammad! Machmad is a Hebrew noun meaning “desirable” and has nothing to with the name of a 7th century Arab man!
Some Muslims also try to prove that the word “Allah” is in the New Testament because the Greek word “alla” sounds like Allah. Except that “alla” simply means “but” and has nothing to do with Allah!
Similiarly the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” is a compound Hebrew word consisting of “hallel” meaning a joyous praise in song. And, the second part, Yah, is a shortened form of YHWH, the name for the Creator.
It has has nothing whatsoever to do with Allah.
Tu Quoque Fallacy
This is type of ad hominem argument in which an accused person turns an allegation back on his or her accuser instead of addressing the argument.
Example: When confronted with the pagan origins of the Hajj rituals in circling the kaabah, kissing the stone, etc. , some Muslims defend it by answering, “So what! You Christians also pagan for celebrating Christmas!”
[Besides being an example of a tu quoque fallacy, the response is also a false analogy fallacy that attempts to parallel the pagan origins that Muslims actually practise as part of their faith with the present day holiday that is neither commanded nor prohibited in the Bible. What some modern day Christians do on Dec. 25th has no logical bearing on what Islam commands Muslims to do at the kaabah. Celebrating Christmas is a matter of personal freedom. But Muslims are commanded in the Quran to believe and practice many things which came from the paganism of that day.]
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of all logical fallacies. I’m not saying Christians are free from committing such logical fallacies. It is something anyone who goes into a debate need to be aware of and avoid indulging in.
Here are a few more:
i. Ad Hominem Fallacy
This type of fallacy occurs when someone attacks the person instead of attacking his or her argument, revealing that he cannot intellectually defend his beliefs.
“Since you are ignorant of Arabic, you are too stupid to ask questions about the Quran.”
ii. Appeal To Ignorance (Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam)
This fallacy occurs when you argue that your conclusion must be true, because there is no evidence against it. This fallacy wrongly shifts the burden of proof away from the one making the claim.
“Since no one can disprove that Muhammad rode on his flying buraq, then it must be true.”
iii. False Dilemma Fallacy
This is a fallacy that presents only two options or sides when there are many options or sides. Essentially, a false dilemma presents a “black and white” kind of thinking when there are actually many shades of gray.
“If you criticize the Quran, it means you hate Muslims. So you better stop!”
iv. Hasty Generalization Fallacy
This is basically making a claim based on evidence that it just too small. Essentially, you can’t make a claim and say that something is true if you have only an example or two as evidence.
“I heard of a few Chinese becoming Muslims. That means all Chinese are becoming Muslims.”
v. Causal Fallacy (False Cause Fallacy)
This a category of fallacies in which a cause is incorrectly identified as being the reason for an event. The two events may coincide, but have no causal connection.
“If the word Bible does not appear in the Bible, that means the Bible is not true. And since the word Quran appears in the Quran, that proves it is true. “
vi. Appeal To Authority Fallacy (Argumentum Ad Verecundiam)
Insisting that a claim is true simply because an authority or expert said it was true.
“Muhammad is the best man who ever lived because Michael Hart ranked him at #1 in his list.”