Common Logical Fallacies Made By Muslims
by Robert A. Morey
© 1996 Research and Education Foundation
Christians must be prepared to answer the typical objections made against the Gospel. Most of the objections are based on simple logical fallacies. The following is a list of some of the most common fallacies used by Muslims.
Note: The average Muslim does not know that his arguments are logically erroneous. He is sincere in his beliefs. Thus you must be patient and kind in sharing with him why his arguments are invalid.
1. 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 Qur'an. When the Bible and The Qur'an contradict each other, the Bible must logically be given first place as the older authority. The Qur'an 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 Qur'an judges the Bible.
2. Arguing in a circle: If you have already assumed in your premise what you are going to state in your conclusion, then you have ended where you began and proven nothing. If you end where you began, you got nowhere.
- Proving Allah by the Qur'an and then proving the Qur'an by Allah.
- Proving Muhammad by the Qur'an and then proving the Qur'an by Muhammad.
- Proving Islam by the Qur'an and then proving the Qur'an by Islam.
3. False Analogy: Comparing two things as if they are parallel when they are not really the same at all.
- Many Muslims erroneously assume that Muslims and Christians share the same concepts of God, revelation, inspiration, textual preservation, the Bible, prophethood, biblical history, conversion, etc...
- Because a false analogy is drawn between Islam and Christianity, some Muslims think that any argument which refutes the Qur'an will likewise refute the Bible; any argument which refutes Muhammad will also refute Jesus Christ, etc...
- many Muslims claim that Muhammad and all prophets were sinless. They even deny that Abraham was an idol worshipper. Thus when a Christian points out all the wicked 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."
What he is really saying is, "If you reject my prophet, then you must reject your prophets as well. If Muhammad was a false prophet, then your prophets are false as well."
The root problem is that the Muslim concept of prophethood is not the same as the Christian concept of prophethood. We teach that prophets sin like anyone else. Thus while Islam is refuted by the sins of Muhammad, Christianity is not jeopardized at all. The Muslim is guilty of setting up a "false analogy."
Whenever a Muslim responds to a Christian attack on the Qur'an, 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.
4. The Fallacy of Irrelevance: When you introduce issues which have no logical bearing on the subject under discussion, you are using irrelevant arguments.
- #1. Some Muslims argue, "The Qur'an is the Word of God because the text of the Qur'an has been preserved perfectly." This argument is erroneous for two reasons:
- Factually, the text of the Qur'an has not been preserved perfectly. The text has additions, deletions, conflicting manuscripts, and variant readings like any other ancient writing.
- Logically, it is irrelevant whether the text of the Qur'an has been preserved because preservation does not logically imply inspiration. A book can be perfectly copied without implying its inspiration.
#2When Muslims attack the character and motives of anyone who criticizes Islam, they are using irrelevant arguments. The character of someone is no indication of whether he is telling you the truth. Good people can lie and evil people can tell the truth. Thus whenever a Muslim uses slurs such as "mean," "dishonest," "racist," "liar," "deceptive," etc., he is not only committing a logical fallacy but also revealing that he cannot intellectually defend his beliefs.
#4 Some Muslims argue that the Qur'an is the Word of God because it contains some historically or scientifically accurate statements. This argument is irrelevant. Just because a book is correct on some historical or scientific point does not mean it is inspired. You cannot take the attributes of a part and apply it to the whole. A book can be a mixture of true and false statements. Thus it is a logical fallacy to argue that the entire Qur'an is true if it makes one true statement.
#5 The present meaning of a word is irrelevant to what it meant in ancient times. The word "Allah" is a good example. When confronted by the historical evidence that the word was used by pagan Arabs in pre-Islamic times to refer to a high god who was married to the sun-goddess and had three daughters, some Muslims will quote dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. to prove (sic) that "Allah means God." They are thus using modern definitions to define what the word meant over a thousand years ago! What "Allah" means now has no bearing on what it meant before Muhammad.
5. The Fallacy of Equivocation: If we assume that everyone has the same definition of such words as God, Jesus, revelation, inspiration, prophet, miracle, etc., we are committing a very simple logical fallacy.
#1 When a Muslim says, "Christians and Muslims worship the same God," 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.
#2 When a Muslim says, "We believe in Jesus too," he is committing the fallacy of equivocation. The "Jesus" of the Qur'an is not the Jesus of the Bible. Islam preaches "another Jesus" (II Cor. 11:4). The Jesus of the Bible is God the Son who died on the cross for our sins. But the "Jesus" of the Qur'an is not God the Son and he did not die on the cross for our sins. Thus it is erroneous for Muslims to tell Christians that they believe in Jesus, too.
#3 When a Muslim assumes that Christians have the same concept of revelation as Muslims, he is guilty of the fallacy of equivocation. According to Islam, the Qur'an was written in heaven by Allah and has no earthly sources. When we prove that it comes from earthly sources, this threatens the inspiration of the Qur'an..
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 Qur'an is threatened by historical sources, the Bible is actually confirmed by them.
#4 When a Muslims tells you that the word "Allah" has only one meaning: "the one, true, universal God," he is assuming a fallacy. The word "allah" has many different meanings.
- It can be used as a generic term like the English word "God." Thus it can be applied to any god or goddess regardless if a true or false god is in view. (ex. The "Allahs" of Hinduism.)
- The Nation of Islam uses it to refer to Wallace Dodd Ford, Elijah Muhammad, and Louis Farrakhan as "Allah" and teaches that all black people are "Allahs."
- It has been used by some Christians in Arabic speaking countries as a generic name for the Holy Trinity.
- It was used in pre-Islamic times by pagan Arabs to refer to the moon-god who was the father of al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat.
- It is used by Muslims to refer to their god.
Islam and Christianity do not worship the same God. The Christian worships the Holy Trinity while the Muslim worships a unitarian deity.
6. The Fallacy of Force: The Qur'an commands Muslims to wage war against non-Muslims and apostates (Surah 5:33; 9:5, 29).
Some Muslims use a false analogy to answer this argument. They respond by saying, "Well, what about the Crusades? You Christians use violence just like Muslims."
It is logically erroneous to set up a parallel between Muslims killing people in obedience to the Qur'an and Christians killing people in disobedience to the Bible. While the Qur'an commands Jihad, the New Testament forbids it.
7. The Fallacy Of Confusing Questions of Fact with Questions of Relevance: Whether something is factually true is totally different from the issue of whether you feel it is relevant. The two issues must be kept separate.
- When a Christian argues that some of the beliefs and rituals of the Qur'an came from pre-Islamic Arab paganism, the Muslim will deny it at first. But as more and more evidence is given, the Muslim will often do a flip-flop and begin arguing, "So what! Didn't you Christians get Christmas from the pagans?" The Muslim has now committed three fallacies:
The "So what!" argument is dealing with the issue of relevance, not fact. You must stop the Muslim at that point and ask him, "Since you are now dealing with the issue of whether the pagan origins of the Qur'an are relevant, does this mean that you are now agreeing to the fact of the pagan origins of Islam?"
- The Muslim has also committed the fallacy of equivocation, The Bible is not threatened by historical sources. It freely refers to them and even quotes them (Acts 17: 28). But the Qur'an denies that it has any earthly historical sources (Surah 25:4-6).
- He also committed the fallacy of false analogy. The Bible and the Qur'an are two totally different books. The inspiration of the Bible does not depend upon the fate of the Qur'an because what Muslims claim for the Qur'an is not what Christians claim for the Bible.
8. Phonic Fallacies: The phonetic sound of a word should not be used to twist its meaning.
- Some Muslims try to prove that the word "Allah" is in the Greek New Testament because of the Greek word alla. But while the word is pronounced "alla," it only means "but" in Greek. It has nothing to do with the Arabic "Allah."
- Some Muslims have claimed that the word "Allah" is in the Bible because the Biblical word "Allelujah." They then mispronounce the word as "Allah-lujah" But "Allelujah" is not a compound Arabic word with "Allah" being the first part of the word. It is a Hebrew word with the name of God being "JAH" (or Yahweh) and the verb "alle" meaning "praise to." It means "praise to Yahweh." The Arabic word "Allah" is not in the word.
- The same error is found in the Muslim argument that the word "Baca" really means "Mecca." The valley of Baca is in northern Israel.
- Some Muslims have tried to go from "Amen" to "Ahmed" to "Mohammed!" Such nonsense is beyond belief.
9. "Red Herring" Arguments: When a Muslim is asked to defend the Qur'an, if he turns around and attacks the reliability of the Bible, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the Crusades, etc., he is introducing irrelevant issues that have no logical bearing on the truthfulness of Islam. He is trying to divert attention from Islam to other issues.
Furthermore, he is assuming that if he can refute the Bible, then the Qur'an wins by default. If he can refute the Trinity, then Allah wins by default. But this is logically erroneous. You cannot prove your position by refuting someone else's position. The Bible and the Qur'an could both be wrong. Muslims must prove their own book.
10. Straw Man Arguments: When you put a false argument into the mouth of your opponent and then proceed to knock it down, you have only created a "straw man" argument, Muslims sometimes either misunderstand or deliberately misquote the arguments Christians give them.
Some Muslims have built a "straw man" argument that claims that we teach, "The Qur'an teaches that Allah is the Moon-god and that Muslims knowingly believe in and worship the Moon-god and his daughters." They then knock down this "straw man" argument and claim victory. Of course, we never said such nonsense. What we have said is that while the Qur'an claims that Allah is God and Muslims think they are worshipping the one true God, in reality they are worshipping a false god preached by a false prophet according to a false book.
The average Muslim has been deceived by Muslim apologists who use such logical fallacies without regard to reason, fact or honesty. But there are many Muslims who want to be rational in their religion and thus have an open mind to rational discourse. Once they see that their arguments are based on logical fallacies, they will be open to the wonderful news that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins on the cross.