“”Go drink your dad's sperm now; what are you waiting for!?!
| —Dawah Man
Imran Ibn Mansur, better known as Dawah Man, is a popular Muslim apologist in the UK and prominent figurehead for the Saudi/Wahhabi affiliated London Dawah Movement and Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA). He is ostensibly focused on proselytizing Islam, a practice known as da'wah, but mainly preaches to the choir. Dawah Man is best known for a video he made presenting an...unorthodox version of the argument from morality focusing on whether atheists can drink their father's sperm. He tends to get excited easily, using excessive hand gestures, yelling at the camera, and occasionally jumping up and down in his videos.
Hilariously, many Muslim apologists and scholars have criticized Dawah Man and his affiliate organizations, on the basis that their arguments and debating styles are so poor they make Islam look bad and dissuade potential converts. This has done little to dent his popularity, however.
“”Imagine that we are a people who are [walking on a path at night.] And what adds to our situation is the fact that this path, not only is it dark and we can't see which way we are going and what the right path is, there's...pitholes and holes and cracks in the floor, there's lions and all sorts of animals and creatures... But then suddenly, we see a man, holding up a light. And with this light he's able to...navigate a path towards his survival. And we look as this man from afar and we think, he can aid us in our survival, so we we follow him. We walk right behind him because he has the light, and he's guiding us to the right path. He can see where the harm is and where the path to safety is. Brothers and sisters, that light is knowledge. And that man, is a man of knowledge.
| —Dawah Man, |declaring himself to be the Mahdi advertising his Muslim Survival Guide
Dawah Man originally tried to be a rapper, but turned to Islamic apologetics when that didn't work out. He was the star student of fellow apologist Hamza Tzortzis, which isn't saying much, and started his da'wah career by uploading street debates and apologetics videos onto his Youtube channel, which has managed to rack up tens of thousands of subscribers. His da'wah method is apparently to approach random people on the street — most of whom know little about Islam or any other religion — and "debate" them. On top of that, he only uploads the debates he wins, leading to him proudly displaying "victories" against opponents who are clearly intoxicated or just plain idiots. Dawah Man has occasionally made the mistake of approaching someone well versed in religion and apologetics, with predictable results.
Dawah Man has since launched an online "Muslim Survival Guide," which allows the
gullible devout to pay a monthly subscription fee to listen to ramblings on day-to-day Islamic morality that they could find anywhere else for free.
As a "scholar"
“”Now we are witnessing the asaghir (little one's) taking on the Akabir as if they know better. Such are the times which are surely an indication of the closeness to akhira when people will look upto the unscholarly rabble as being some sort of authority on such delicate matters.
| —Forumite Darul Tahqiq, on Dawah Man & friends
Dawah Man's latest career move has been to act as an ulama (a scholar of Islam), much to the chagrin of his more educated coreligionists. Him and his friends have made several assertions about Islamic theology which have been thoroughly debunked by those actually knowledgeable in the matter.
Most notably, Dawah Man started 2016 by challenging Imam Muhammed Asim Hussain, a Muslim scholar, on the obscure issue of whether Muslims are allowed to celebrate Mawlid, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday. Dawah Man (predictably) took the hardcore Salafi viewpoint that it's ABSOLUTELY HARAM (unacceptable), that everyone should live as a 7th century Bedouin, and made a video claiming that Mawlid was unacceptable. Imam Hussain uploaded a video defending the Mawlid, and also invited Dawah Man to meet him at one of Hussain's lectures. Dawah Man instead fired back with another video defending his position; Hussain responded in kind, but also stated that Dawah Man was "still invited to attend the lecture, he will be given VIP treatment and again his safety [will be] guaranteed." Dawah Man reacted by rejecting the invitation and saying Imam Hussain was "either a lair or […] ignorant." Finally, Imam Hussain responded with a two hour and forty minute long(!?!) video completely refuting Dawah Man, whose only response was to upload an insulting cartoon of Hussain to Instagram.
None of this embarrassment seems to deter him.
“”We're smart now, we're not gonna behave stupid [sic] anymore!
| —Dawah Man
Dawah Man and his teacher Hamza Tzortzis are strident fans of Christian William Lane Craig's arguments, which they shamelessly plagiarized until they were called out on it. They have nonetheless managed to piece together their own arguments for Islam, which are debunked as follows.
YA DADDY'S SPERM
Dawah Man's most famous video revolves around a simple argument from morality — without Allah, there's nothing wrong with drinking your father's semen, therefore, Allah must exist. Dawah Man backs this up by debunking brief strawman forms of the evolutionary explanation for morality, the role of social pressure, and Sam Harris' formulation of consequentialism. He uses all this to posit a false dichotomy — these systems don't work, therefore, Allah. Hilariously, he also tries to condemn non-religious moral systems by claiming they allow pedophilia, apparently oblivious to certain things.
In addition to the other problems with the argument from morality, the most obvious problem with Dawah Man's variant is that it assumes a moral system, and uses this to determine what is and isn't moral. Dawah Man dismisses moral possibilities which don't agree with Islamic morality as inherently immoral — a circular argument. He also relies heavily on appeals to emotion to get his point — atheists can have no morals — across.
Rhetorical Devices in the Qur'an
There could have been much better, insightful questions, than to evaluate such powerful texts on basis of linguistic
features. It's like talking about the fine quality and texture of the threads of a cap of a water bottle to someone who is thirsty.
| —Redditor bogas04
Dawah Man and the London Dawah Movement have often made the claim that the 108th and shortest surah (chapter) in the Qur'an, Al-Kawthar (The Abundance: Qur'an 108), is a "literary miracle" and "inimitable" because it contains numerous 'rhetorical devices' in the first three words and/or in the entire chapter. However, their criteria for counting 'rhetorical devices', as well as the significance they attach to them, is somewhat lacking.
The chapter itself is as follows:
إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ
Which roughly translates to
Surely We have given you Kausar (Abundance),
Therefore pray to your Lord and make a sacrifice.
Surely your enemy is the one who shall be without posterity.
Dawah Man and Hamza Tzortis reach their inflated numbers by counting things like syntax, tense, and even using the correct word as 'rhetorical devices.' Although they and their affiliates have presented this argument many times, a particularly detailed variant which incorporates all of their claims is presented on Tzortis' webshite; this is examined here.
|Rhetorical Miracles in al-Kawthar
1. Emphasis & Choice of Pronoun
[Verily, We] This structure is emphatic (harf al-tawkid); also the plural is used to indicate power, certainty, ability, greater quantity or sometimes to stress the status and greatness (li-ta’zim al-mutakallim aw ihtimaman bi-dhikr rabbika wa ta’ziman). This is an apt choice of pronoun as its persuasive force can not be matched by any other pronoun. The effect is “The creator, who has power to do anything has indeed given you….”
This is just saying the Qur'an uses the royal "We" in Arabic.|
2. Word Choice
[A’Tayn] This term as been used instead of ‘Aataaina’ because of a subtle difference. The difference as defined by Ibn Manzoor in his Lisan al-‘Arab differs conceptually. The Qur’anic choice indicates ‘to hand over with one’s own hand’ whereas the non Qur’anic selection does not provide this meaning. This choice of word is apt as it strengthens the sentence emphasizing the surety of giving, ability, greatness, power and intimacy (to console and strengthen the Prophet).
According to Naishapuri this term also indicates the extra notion of ownership with it.
The verb has also been used in the past tense which indicates that is has already happened and makes it definitive. This further accentuates the meaning of surety, power and greatness. This also expresses certainty of a promise, in this case the Prophet will have al-Kawthar.
The Qur'an uses a word instead of another word...and it's in past tense.|
3. Word Choice
[al-Kawthar] The root stem for this word are the letters kaaf, tha and ra (=kathara). This signifies plentiful, multitude, overflowing, rich, unstinting and unending. Other derivations of this root include:
Katheerun: Much, many, numerous
Ak’tharu: More numerous (emphasis)
Kath-thara: To multiply
Takathur: Act of multiplying
Is-thak-thara: To wish for much
Al-Qurtubi states that the Arabs used ‘Kawthar’ to denote anything which is great in quantity or value. This word can not be replaced with another, as its meaning can not be matched equally with any other Arabic word. Ibn Abbas mentioned that the al-Kawthar includes all types of good. (Ibn Abbas Tanwir al-Miqbas: this is of doubtful origin. However this is also the opinion of Sa‘id Ibn Jubayr, ‘Ikramah, Qatadah and Mujahid.)
|The Qur'an used "al-Kawthar," which means abundance...to say abundance. It's a root word to!|
4. Word Arrangement
The placement of al-Kawthar is an attribute; plentiful/abundance. However this word has been placed at the end of the verse with no word after to be attributed to it, as al-Qurtubi points out, this indicates that the Prophet has been given an abundance of everything. The Scholars state that if God had bestowed one thing in great multitude then that would have been mentioned, however due to giving the Prophet an abundance of everything nothing is mentioned to indicate everything or many things. Also within the science of eloquence and rhetoric mentioning all the things would be superfluous and not a good use of language.||
Basically, the Qur'an formed a sentence correctly.|
5. Multiple Meaning
The word al-Kawthar has been given multiple meanings by the scholars. These meanings include:
1. That river of paradise from which rivers flow.
2. The fountain on the Day of Judgement from which the Prophet will quench the thirst of his people.
3. His prophethood.
4. The Qur’an, no other divine book is as comprehensive as the Qur’an.
5. The way of life called Islam.
6. The multitude of his companions, no other prophet had that many companions
7. Elevated status. No one is more researched, more mentioned and more praised than the prophet Muhammad.
8. It is multitude of goodness.
The Qur'an used a word which has multiple definitions, and could be interpreted multiple ways. It might even do some word play!|
6. Grammatical Shift: Iltifaat
إِنَّا …ِرَبِّكَ ْ
[…to your Lord]. Iltifaat is a unique rhetorical and stylistic device employed by the Qur’an. The Qur’an is the only text to have the highest frequency of grammatical shifts and related rhetorical features. In this Surah, there is a change from the first person plural [We in innaa] to the second person […your Lord]. This change is not an abrupt shift; it is calculated and highlights the intimate relationship between God and the Prophet. The use of ‘We’ as described above is used to emphasize the majesty, power and ability of God whereas ‘Your Lord’ is used to indicate and emphasize intimacy, closeness and love; this is an apt use as the preceding concepts are about prayer, sacrifice and worship. [So to your Lord pray and sacrifice]. Furthermore, the purpose of this chapter is also to console the Prophet, using intimate language enhances the psycholinguistic effect.
The Qur'an changes tense in the middle of a sentence.|
7. Conceptual Relatedness (intertextuality)
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
[So to your Lord pray and sacrifice]
The ‘fa’ (so) particle is sababi (causative) this indicates a recommendation to the Prophet to be thankful for the abundance he has been given. This conceptually relates to tawhid (oneness of God). The Oneness of God is the central theme in the Qur’an which permeates every chapter. The Arabs at the time of revelation would worship, pray and sacrifice to other ‘deities’ rather than God. Therefore this statement is not only a logical and rational concept i.e. to be thankful as a result of being the beneficiary of abundant good, rather it is to show the difference to the polytheists who would offer worship and sacrifice to idols. This relates to a major theme in the Qur’an, the oneness of God.
There are other verses that related to this particular verse, these include:
Say: “Verily, my Salah, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all that exists. He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.” Qur’an 6:162-163
And do not eat from what Allah’s Name has not been pronounced over, indeed that is Fisq (transgression). Qur’an 6:121
It can be clearly seen that chapter al-Kawthar conceptually relates to other verses and chapters within the Qur’an. This feature from a linguistics point of view is called thematic intertextuality.
The Qur'an references other concepts and verses. At least, if you over-analyze this enough.|
8. Word Choice
[Wanhar] The word ‘wanhar’ is from the root na, ha and ra (= nahara) which means to sacrifice an animal by cutting or piercing the jugular vein. The word ‘wanhar’ also has the meaning of standing facing Qibla for Salah (prayer). It also means raising hands while reciting Takbir (God is the Greatest).
This word is the most apt word for the meaning of sacrifice as it has multi layered meanings which are most appropriate for the ideas and concepts that are trying to be delivered in this structure. Surely it is only out of God’s Greatness that al-Kawthar is given to the Prophet and it should be received with thanks and sacrifice, which are manifested in Islam via sacrificing animals, prayer and recitation of Gods names (dhikr).
If anyone was to scan the Arabic language for a word that has such expression they would not be able to find one.
|Once again, the Qur'an uses a specific word to mean a specific thing. Like most words, it also has several meanings!|
9. Emphasis and Choice of Particle
[Inna] ‘Indeed’ is used to emphasize and accentuate that it is the enemies of the Prophet that are cut off. The effect is ‘you enemies are certainly the ones you are cut off’.
The Qur'an uses the word indeed. With emphasis.|
10. Semantically Orientated Repetition & Rhythm
|إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ
The repetition of the second person (ka = ‘you’ x 3) is singling out/focusing/making exclusive the Prophet as the target of the speaker. The emphasis (iqrar) is a stylistic move to fortify and strengthen the Prophet. The consistent use of the second person establishes continuity in the verse and generates rhythm. Moreover, there is a juxtaposition between the iltifaat of the speaker (al-mutakallim = God) with the fixity/repetition of ka in the second person (mukhatab = Prophet).
|The Qur'an repeats a word, and does so poetically.|
11. Rebuke and Contempt
|إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ
[It is your enemy that is cut off]
The use of the word ‘abtar’ (cut off) is most suitable as it was a word used by the enemies of the Prophet against him. This structure indicates that in reality the enemies of the Prophet are the ones who are cut off i.e. have acquired great loss. This is accentuated by the preceding two verses which are an intense, emphatic and exaggerated use of language to show that all good has been given to the Prophet. The contrast between the persuasive preceding structures and the use of the word ‘abtar’ gives the word more power and intensity.
|The Qur'an rebukes Mohammed's enemies. Somehow, this is a 'rhetorical device.'|
12. Word Arrangement
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ
[abtar] This chapter uses the insult the enemies of the Prophet used to enhance the communicative effect. This word in the Arabic tradition means `Leave him, for indeed he is a man who is cut off having no descendants. So when he dies he will not be remembered.’
This return of insult is not merely done as a form of ‘tit for tat’ rather it is eloquently arranged as the last word used in the chapter to stress the meaning. The effect is, that it is they who are really cut off as the word ‘abtar’ is placed right at the end of the chapter to allude to this fact. There are no words after ‘abtar’ just like no remembrance and no offspring to continue someone’s lineage (Note: This is a linguistic indication and not a fact).
Once again, the Qur'an formulates a sentence correctly. And this impacts the meaning.|
13. Choice of Particle: Confinement/Exclusivity
[…that is cut off]. The alif lam (a and l) after the ‘huwa’ denotes confinement and exclusivity (designates a specific person or thing i.e. the enemies of the Prophet). For the context of this chapter, the definite article (al-) may designate either definition (li ’l-ta’rif) i.e. refer to a specific person/thing or it may designate ‘familiarity’ (li ’l-‘ahd). The effect here is that the enemies specifically and not the Prophet who are really cut off. Such minutiae changes the power of the structure, which is a great use of language.
The Qur'an uses the Arabic language correctly.|
14. Rhythm and Sound
The Qur’an has been described as an “inimitable symphony” whose rhythm moves men to tears and ecstasy. The Qur’an not only selects the most apt words and phrases, but also achieves a unique sound within a unique literary form. This chapter has the following verse end rhyme:
What is noticeable about the rhyme in this chapter is that the end rhyme of the last two verses resonate the sound of the word ‘al-kawthar’, what is meant here is as if the sound of the word ‘al-kawthar’ is extended to support the overall theme that the Prophet has really been given an abundance. It is as though the word ‘al-kawthar’ has been exaggerated and phonetically elongated to further highlight its meaning and enhance the overall persuasive power of the structure.
An interesting observation of the chapter is that it also is factual and accurate. At the time when this chapter was revealed the Prophet was in one of the lowest points in his life. His enemies were the ones who seemed to have prosperity and power. However, the reality soon changed. The Prophet turned out to be the most successful Prophet both as a man delivering a message and as a statesman. His enemies eventually lost their power.
However the Qur’an used the word ‘abtar’ here, this describes the Prophet gaining power and success but it should also indicate something more specific for it to be appreciated as a factual description and a form of prophesy.
There are major opinions of the reason for this revelation. The first opinion is that Al-`As bin Wa’il would say, whenever the Prophet would be mentioned (in his presence), `Leave him, for indeed he is a man who is cut off having no descendants. So when he dies he will not be remembered.’ Therefore this chapter was revealed to console the Prophet.
The other opinion is that Abu Lahab, another leading member of the Quraish, exlaimed `Muhammad has been cut off (i.e., from progeny) tonight.’ when the Prophet’s son passed away.
What makes this chapter a prophesy and factual is the events that took place after this revelation.
With regards to Abu Lahab he died of a form of plague and was not buried by his sons until one the leading tribe leaders noticed how his body was rotting. His sons eventual placed the remains of the body on a wall and threw stones on it. Abu Lahab had lost power, honour and dignity.
‘As bin Wa’il faced similar humiliation. His sons had converted to Islam thus becoming his enemies, as he was an active enemy of Islam. Furthermore his sons did not take any inheritance from him. So in reality his lineage was broken.
The Qur'an - which was written down after Muhammad's death - managed to correctly describe a part of Muhammad's life.|
None of these loosely defined 'rhetorical devices' would require a divine author, as they are basic elements of language. Nor does using descriptive language or correct grammar make al-Kawthar in any way "inimitable"; by this metric, most pieces of writing in any language could meet or surpass the number of arbitrary 'rhetorical devices'.
In addition, the assumption behind this argument is that the linguistic merits of the Qur'an would prove its claims of divine authorship. Even if we assumed the Qur'an was somehow agreed upon to be the most well written book in history, such would not "prove" anything — the world's fastest swimmer is faster than all others, but this does not mean they are miraculously fast.