It’s been many years since Mansur Ahmed, one of the Muslim’s foremost thinkers and polemicists at Speaker’s Corner, has chosen to debate Jay Smith formally at the Corner, but he chose finally to do so last Sunday (May 24th, 2015) challenging Jay to prove that Ibn Hisham’s compilation (d. 833) is the earliest extant material Muslims have on their prophet Muhammad’s biography. Mansur refused to stand on a ladder (though one was offered him), possibly due to his weak performance with this material. As a result (unfortunately), the camera was not able to pick up all he said clearly, though Jay does try to repeat much of what he alluded to during his 5 minutes responses.
Watch this 1 hour debate, as the two go at it (5 minutes each, back and forth), and see how Jay not only confronts the late dates of Muhammad’s biography (Sira) and sayings (Hadith), all appearing in extant written form 200-300 years after Muhammad’s death, but he also confronts the late date for the first reference to Mecca (741 AD), and the fact that all of the earliest Qiblas (direction of prayers) in all of the earliest mosques (up until 725 AD), are not pointing to Mecca at all, but uniformly pointing instead to the city of Petra, in Jordan, 600 miles too far north! He also notes that almost all of the geographical locations in the Qur’an fit Petra, and not Mecca, taken from Dan Gibson’s book ‘Qur’anic Geography’, which you can buy and download in PDF at: http://www.searchformecca.com/QGgalley.pdf
These findings, Jay points out, suggest that both the Qur’an and the earliest traditions (the Sunnah) have the wrong man, at the wrong place, doing the wrong things, at the wrong time.
As a contrast, Jay submits that both the biography (Sira = Gospels) of Jesus, as well as His sayings (Hadith = Gospels) are so much earlier (compiled 30-60 years after Jesus’ death), written by eye-witnesses, or those who knew them, and without any historical anachronisms to speak of; which proves that the Bible has the right man, at the right place, doing the right things, in the right time!
Note how Mansur refuses to answer almost any of the challenges Jay profers, but instead tries to turn the debate back on to the supposed credibility of the gospel of Matthew, an area which had nothing to do with the tenor of the debate. And then note how he quickly shuts his camera down and runs away when Jay begins to respond to his final 5 minutes.
It’s certainly great theater, but there is a serious chord running throughout this debate, which has to do with this new historical material that is proving to be the ‘Achilles Heel’ of Islamic authority, because it confronts the historical credibility of both the Qur’an and their prophet Muhammad, without which Islam cannot stand. There is so much more yet to reveal, as Jay hasn’t even begun to discuss the manuscript problems with the earliest Qur’ans, but more on that later…so, hold this space.