EXPOSING FAKE LOGIC

 

Chapter 3: Mahmoud Zeraatpishe

 

 

1.     Introduction

2.     Cases proposed by Zeraatpishe

3.     Summary of results

4.     Fake general claims

5.     Apologetic nonsense

 

 

1.    Introduction

In my 2013 book, A Fortiori Logic (henceforth AFL), I studied a fortiori argument in depth, examining in extensive and meticulous detail its formal varieties and its practical applications. I found and analyzed a great many examples of such argument in world literature, including the works of Plato and Aristotle, and some later Greek and Roman philosophers; in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible), the Talmud (Mishna and Gemara), and subsequent Rabbinic discourse; in the Christian Bible (NT) and some later Christian discourse, in the Koran and Hadiths, and subsequent Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh); in Chinese and Indian texts; in other ancient literature and in more modern literature; and in just about all papers published thus far on a fortiori argument. On this basis, I can well claim to be the foremost authority on this subject; no one has ever done such a thorough study of a fortiori argument before or since.

I devote one chapter, in the said book (AFL 11), to the logic displayed in Islam. This chapter was 48 pages (size A4) in length (pp. 268-315), including some 13 pages on logic in the Koran and Hadiths and about 20 pages to fiqh; the remaining few pages being devoted to Islam in general. This work was for me incidental; I explicitly said in it that I did not intend it as an exhaustive study. As regards logic in general in the Koran, I mainly referred to the few cases found by the Muslim philosopher Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (11th-12th cent. CE), which I analyzed and fairly judged. As regards a fortiori argument in the Koran, my research consisted only of a mechanical search through that document for various key words and phrases indicative of such discourse; and to my surprise, I found no cases that way (surprisingly, because in most other documents investigated, such mechanical search had revealed numerous instances). I did, however, come across one case by chance, and duly acknowledged it and analyzed it.

Sometime in 2016, Mahmoud Zeraatpishe[1], an Iranian academic, published a short paper called Quranic A Fortiori Arguments[2], in which he contests my conclusion that there is little logic, and in particular little a fortiori argument, in the Koran. Here is the introductory paragraph of his essay:

 

“Avi Sion, who has previously investigated a fortiori logic in Judaic Logic, has dedicated about two pages of his recent book, A Fortiori Logic, to Quran. He admitted that his Quranic research and review in A Fortiori Logic is incomplete, because he has only relied on the English translation of Quran and has not gone into the deep concepts of those translations either. He says also that he has only searched the associated English keywords and phrases with software and finally that such a research has been performed reluctantly (p.268). However, he has finally jumped to the conclusion that there is no logic in Quran, let alone a fortiori logic (p.268). It seems that he has taken the advantage of his incomplete work very well. The current research is supposed to redress Sion’s incomplete effort to find a fortiori arguments in Quran.”[3]

 

This introduction is inaccurate and unfair. First, the claim that I only dedicated “about two pages” of my book to the Koran – is false. Only about one page deals with a fortiori argument in the Koran, because I did not find much more to say about that. However, the next 5½ pages deal with other forms of logic in the Koran, and a further 5 pages discuss the Koran in more general terms. Moreover, there are another 29 pages on other topics relating to Islamic logic. So, either Zeraatpishe did not see and read more than two pages, or he deliberately lied.[4]

Second, I did not guiltily “admit” that my “research and review” were “incomplete” – I openly informed readers of the fact:

I must stress that I do not intend the following treatment to be exhaustive. I am merely breaking ground for a more extensive treatment by others. Being personally not very interested in the Moslem religion, I am not sufficiently motivated to do a thorough job on the subject. I do hope someone else will take up the challenge and do the necessary research.

Moreover, I did not “finally jump to the conclusion that there is no logic in Quran” – I merely objectively reported the zero result of mechanical research[5], without excluding the possibility that further research (by reading) would yield more positive results:

Thus, it would appear from this research effort that there is no logic use in the Koran. The sweet voice of reason is never actually used. This is quite a shocking finding, which goes some way to explain the dogmatic style of Islam. Note that this conclusion does not exclude the possibility that closer reading might reveal some use of logic, because it is based on mechanical search of key words and phrases.

Indeed, immediately after that, I wrote: “In truth, after writing the above I discovered that there is in the Koran at least one passage that can reasonably be admitted as a fortiori, namely 36:78-79;” and after analyzing the text, I confirm: “So there is, after all, at least one a fortiori argument in the Koran. Maybe there are others, but so far this is all I have found – a pretty poor harvest, anyway.”

Notice my use of “at least,” even then. So, clearly, Zeraatpishe’s suggestion that “he has taken the advantage of his incomplete work very well,” hinting that I was deliberately trying to malign the Koran, was quite unjustified. The truth is, when I discovered that someone had taken up the challenge and tried to find more a fortiori arguments in the Koran, I was rather pleased. This is just what I had hoped for!

Leaving such disputes behind, let us now examine and evaluate the many cases of a fortiori argument in the Koran proposed by Zeraatpishe.

 

2.    Cases proposed by Zeraatpishe

Zeraatpishe begins (in §2) by briefly describing and naming the parts and varieties of a fortiori argument in accord with my work; he does this on the whole quite well[6]. Zeraatpishe then tries to show (in §3) that there are many more a fortiori arguments in the Koran than the single one that I found.

His exposé starts (in §3-1) with the one a fortiori argument that I found, namely Koran 36:78-79: “He [man] says, ‘Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated? Say [to him], ‘He [God] will give them life who produced them the first time; and He is, of all creation, knowing”. Here is what I wrote in AFL 11:1 on this argument:

Although here there is no key phrase indicative of a fortiori argument, there is a connection between the sentences in the fact that the first is a question and the second is an answer to it. Moreover, since the reply “He will give them life” would have sufficed, it is obvious that the clauses “who produced them the first time” and “He is, of all creation, knowing” are intended as additional explanations for that reply. The argument here is clearly that if God (S) was powerful (R) enough to create man in the first place (P), He (S) is surely just as able (R) to resurrect him long after he dies (Q). This is a positive predicatal argument[7], since the subsidiary term S (God) is the subject of the minor premise and conclusion. It would be counted as a pari, since the premised act P (initial creation) is not presented as more or less difficult than the concluding act Q (resurrection)[8]. Indeed, the additional comment that God fully knows creation implies that both these acts are equally easy for Him[9]. Lastly, the argument is purely a fortiori, not a crescendo, since the subject (God) is the same in the minor premise and conclusion.

Zeraatpishe reads the argument as follows: “More power (R) is required to create man in the first place (P) than to resurrect him (Q); God (S) is powerful enough to create man in the first place; He is surely just as able to resurrect him long after he dies.” This is correct and corresponds to my reading (although I do mention in a footnote that an egalitarian reading is more appropriate). Note that, while the translation I used (above) was Sahih International (1997)[10], the translations that Zeraatpishe preferred (below) were those of Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall (1930)[11]; so, we shall use the latter henceforth.

 

Zeraatpishe now adds the following five cases (I list them in the order he gives them, though this is not their order of appearance in the Koran), which he claims are “the same argument,” although he does not actually spell out the arguments in full PQRS format or even just sketch their overall intent:

·       Koran 75:37-40:

37 Was he not a drop of fluid which gushed forth?

38 Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned

39 And made of him a pair, the male and female.

40 Is not He (Who doeth so) Able to bring the dead to life?

I agree that there is an a fortiori argument here, which I would detail as follows: if Allah (S) was powerful (R) enough to shape and fashion man and woman (P), then He (S) is surely just as able (R) to bring the dead to life (Q) (mood +p).

·       Koran 17:49-51:

49 And they say: When we are bones and fragments, shall we forsooth, be raised up as a new creation?

50 Say: Be ye stones or iron

51 Or some created thing that is yet greater in your thoughts! Then they will say: Who shall bring us back (to life). Say: He Who created you at the first. Then will they shake their heads at thee, and say: When will it be? Say: It will perhaps be soon;

Although Zeraatpishe mentions verses 48-51, verse 48 is not really involved. Also, although Zeraatpishe highlights only one a fortiori argument (the second one, shown in italics), there are in my opinion two of them. The first is in verses 49-51: since Allah (S) would be powerful (R) enough to raise up as a new creation stones or iron or anything you imagine to be more difficult (P), He (S) is obviously able (R) to raise up your bones and fragments (Q) (mood +p). And the second is part of verse 51: since Allah (S) was powerful (R) enough to create you at the first (P), He (S) is obviously able (R) to bring you back to life (Q) (mood +p).

·       Koran 6:94-95:

94 Now have ye come unto Us solitary as We did create you at the first, and ye have left behind you all that We bestowed upon you, and We behold not with you those your intercessors, of whom ye claimed that they possessed a share in you. Now is the bond between you severed, and that which ye presumed hath failed you.

95 Lo! Allah (it is) Who splitteth the grain of corn and the date-stone (for sprouting). He bringeth forth the living from the dead, and is the bringer-forth of the dead from the living. Such is Allah. How then are ye perverted?

Actually, Zeraatpishe only mentions verse 94, which seems to refer to the last judgment (and he only cites the first part of it, shown in italics); but I do not see any a fortiori argument in this verse viewed alone. He must have also intended the next one, verse 95, but failed to mention it. With this addition, an a fortiori argument may well be constructed as follows: since Allah (S) is powerful (R) enough to split corn-grain and date-stone, bring the dead to life and the living to death (P), then He (S) is surely (contrary to your perverse denials) able (R) to judge man alone (i.e. without participation of intercessors) at the last judgment (Q) (mood +p).

·       Koran 18:48: And they are set before thy Lord in ranks (and it is said unto them): Now verily have ye come unto Us as We created you at the first. But ye thought that We had set no tryst for you.

This verse seems to be saying: you are now facing God for the reckoning after death, even though you did not expect that to happen. The sentence highlighted by Zeraatpishe (shown in italics) is admittedly similar in wording to preceding cases; but I see no a fortiori argument in the present case, no matter how tacit. Zeraatpishe wrongly presumes one.

·       Koran 41:21: And they say unto their skins: Why testify ye against us? They say: Allah hath given us speech Who giveth speech to all things, and Who created you at the first, and unto Whom ye are returned.

Here again, albeit some similarity in wording highlighted by Zeraatpishe (shown in italics), I see no intent of a fortiori argument. There is no inference from one thing to another. Zeraatpishe appears to have imagined an inference from Allah being able to create people and recall them to Him, to His being able to give voice to skin; but the question put is “why do our skins testify against us?” – and not “how come skins have the power of speech?” The sentence about Allah “giving speech to all things” is not an answer to the question why the skins speak against the people.

Thus, to summarize so far, of the five cases proposed by Zeraatpishe: in three cases there are valid a fortiori arguments, and indeed in one of the cases there are two of them; but in two cases, there is no discernible a fortiori argument. We have thus added, thanks to Zeraatpishe, four new a fortiori arguments (all +p – i.e. positive predicatal) to our listing of a fortiori argument use in the Koran. But we can also see that Zeraatpishe’s grasp of such research is approximate, since he proposed two instances incorrectly (probably, so as to ‘pad’ his results), and missed out on one glaring instance (which I therefore now take credit for), making his success rate so far only 50%.

As regards the contents of the above four new arguments, it should be said in passing that while they are formally valid, it does not mean that their power of conviction is very high. Clearly, the speaker has certain beliefs, and from within this belief system his arguments seem to him very forceful (whence his very emotional tone). But someone who does not share the same beliefs might not find the arguments very convincing. Thus, for a modern atheist, who does not believe in the material premises used, i.e. in God and Creation, or in Resurrection and Last Judgment, none of the conclusions proposed would carry any weight. Similarly, Buddhists or Hindus, who function under very different belief-systems, would not be moved by such arguments.

Even Jews or Christians, who believe in these general ideas, need not believe that their particular expressions in the Koran are of Divine origin. For them, there is no guarantee that the god called Allah corresponds to their God (whose words and deeds are very different), or that Muhammad (if he at all existed) was a genuine prophet, however insistently the Koran makes such claims. Jews and Christians believe the Koran to be a forgery – a partial and distortive cut-and-paste job from their own Scriptures, and (to a lesser extent) other sources – a collection of stories and ideas, snitched and freely reworked by its author or authors (whether Muhammad or anyone else) to fit his or their fancies and needs at the time. Just because someone has composed a document, with adamant claims to have been inspired or dictated to by God, this does not logically prove that the document had any ad hoc Divine origin whatsoever. Anyone can claim anything they want: claims are not proofs.

So, the Koran’s discourse is only at best rhetorical; it preaches to people who are already somewhat converted, or who are easily swayed by emotional (mostly intimidating) speeches. It can only convince simplistic minds, who are not conversant with and fully committed to rational evaluation of claims – i.e. the minds of backward individuals and peoples. That is why in practice, as its bloody history attests, Islam has spread and maintained itself mostly by brute force, or at least the threat of it. To convert intelligent and informed ‘unbelievers’ through truly rational means, the Koran would have to offer arguments that are logically much more profound and elaborate. The arguments given in the Koran are mere religious claims, which are only superficially rational. Their logical credibility is relative, not absolute. They are not arguments in the philosophical or scientific sense, basing knowledge on objective induction from empirical data and strict deduction.

 

Next (in §3-2), Zeraatpishe draws attention to this verse:

·       Koran 43:81[12]: Say (O Muhammad): If the Beneficent One hath a son, then, I shall be first among the worshippers. (But there is no son.)

Based on a reading of this verse by a living Iranian Grand Ayatollah, called Makarim[13], as: “Say to those who believe in God having a child, ‘Had there been a child for God the Compassionate, I would have been the first one to respect and follow that son, because my belief in God and my knowledge toward Him is more than you,” Zeraatpishe interprets this statement as a “pure superior subjectal a fortiori argument,” in the following way: “If Prophet (p) which has more belief/knowledge in/about God (R), has not enough belief/knowledge in/about His having a child to respect/follow him (S) (i.e. the child), others (Q), all the more, have not enough belief/knowledge in/about God having a child to respect/follow him.”

However, to my mind neither the Koranic verse nor the Ayatollah’s interpretation of it suggest Zeraatpishe’s a fortiori argument or any other a fortiori argument.

The Koranic verse states that if God has a son, then Muhammad will be the first to worship that putative son. This is plainly intended as the major premise of a negative apodosis (modus tollens); the tacit minor premise being that Muhammad does not worship a son of God (denial of the consequent) and the conclusion being that God has no son (denial of the antecedent). This argument is formally valid.

The Ayatollah’s commentary has the same reading, except that it adds a reason why Muhammad would be “the first among the Worshippers” of the son – namely, his superior “belief in God” and “knowledge toward Him.” According to him, then, Muhammad here presents himself as an example to follow by lesser mortals, effectively saying: you (my followers) should not believe in a son of God, because I (your spiritual leader) do not believe in a son of God. This reason is nowhere explicit in the source text; but added on, note well. Zeraatpishe’s attempt at a fortiori interpretation is based on this additional clause, courtesy of the said commentator; it is not exclusively based on the Koran.

It should be noted, incidentally, that the Pickthall translation misreads the argument, since it adds in brackets (i.e. in the way of an explanatory commentary[14]): “But there is no son.” This is logically erroneous, in that it suggests the intended argument to be: if God had a son, then Muhammad would worship him; but God has no son; therefore, Muhammad does not worship any alleged son. The latter is, of course, illicit reasoning, since it moves from denial of the antecedent to denial of the consequent.

Zeraatpishe’s proposed a fortiori argument (shown above) can be rejected on several grounds. First, notice that his middle term (labeled R) in the major premise is “belief/knowledge in/about God” (this Muhammad is said to have more of than others do); whereas his middle term in the minor premise and conclusion seems to be “belief/knowledge in/about His having a child” (this is what the people involved have not enough of), the subsidiary term (labeled S) being “to respect/follow him” (i.e. the child). The object of the phrase “belief/knowledge in/about” is not the same in both cases; in the first, it is “God,” and in the second, it is “His having a child.” This is a fatal error, which immediately invalidates the a fortiori argument; the middle term must be exactly the same throughout for the inference to work.

There is no way to fix the error. If we change the middle term in the minor premise to “Muhammad (P) has not enough belief/knowledge in/about God (R) to assume His having a child to be respected/followed (S),” we are implying that Muhammad’s belief/knowledge might be inferior to the needed degree, without that implying a denial that God, in fact, has a son! If, instead, we change the middle term in the major premise to “Muhammad (P) has more belief/knowledge in/about God having a child (R) than others (Q) do,” we are implying Muhammad does have some belief/knowledge in the thesis that God has a son, even more of it than others do! Clearly, no a fortiori argument can be constructed with the desired result.

It is easy to see why Zeraatpishe worded his proposed argument as he did. What he had in mind was the prospective argument: Muhammad (P) is wiser (R) than his followers (Q); and Muhammad (P) is wise (R) enough to disbelieve in God having a son (S); therefore, his followers (Q) ought to be wise (R) enough to disbelieve in God having a son (S). But he realized, if only subconsciously, that this reasoning, being positive subjectal, could not validly go from major to minor as it needed to. This is obvious: just because Muhammad is wise enough to disbelieve in a son of God, it does not follow that his less-wise disciples will be wise enough to do the same! So, Zeraatpishe tried to recast the argument in negative subjectal form to make it look valid. But the only way he could do that was by mixing up the middle and subsidiary terms, as above explained. This was, of course, cheating. It is not uncommon to find people trying to make an argument seem a fortiori when it is not, by manipulating the terms involved in just this way.

Additionally, even if Zeraatpishe’s proposed argument had been formally valid (which, to repeat, it is definitely not), it could be rejected on other grounds. First, Zeraatpishe’s proposed minor premise only tells us that Muhammad did not believe in or worship a son of God – but this is not the same as saying that there is no son of God. It could be taken to mean that Muhammad did not believe in or worship a son of God, even though there was such a son – and this is obviously not at all the intent of either the Koranic verse or the Ayatollah’s commentary. Second, Zeraatpishe’s proposed conclusion, besides mirroring the minor premise’s factual ambiguity, is merely descriptive; it does not prescribe to other people not to believe in and not to worship a son of God. Yet clearly, the whole intent of the given verse and comment is not merely that people do not have such belief or worship, but that they should not do so.[15]

So, here again, we have to firmly reject Zeraatpishe’s specious claim to an additional a fortiori argument in the Koran, or even in the stated commentary to it. His proposed a fortiori argument is just spin. Not only is it not manifest in these texts, whether explicitly or implicitly; but it does not even reflect the evident intent of the texts examined. And, worst of all, it is formally invalid; and there is no way to fix it. Clearly, Zeraatpishe was not here trying to scientifically find out just how frequently a fortiori argument happens to be present in the Koran; he was trying to forcefully buttress his ideological contention that it is frequently present. This is not a spirit of unbiased academic research, but one of dishonest religious apologetics.

 

Next (in §3-3), Zeraatpishe claims: “It seems that most of the a fortiori arguments in Quran are a crescendo.” But he gives only two actual examples:

·       Koran 67:22: Is he who goeth groping on his face more rightly guided, or he who walketh upright on a straight road?

About this verse, Zeraatpishe writes: “Here, assimilating to ‘who walk groping on their face’, the unbelievers (Q) are compared with believers (P) who are assimilated as ‘who walk upright’. Note that ‘Walk’ (R) has used here metaphorically and it refers to some other characteristic (like knowledge or insight).” Then he proposes the following argument: “If he who walks groping on his face, walks enough to be guided, therefore, all the more, who walks upright, walks enough to be more guided”. Or, in other words: “If unbelievers have enough insight to be guided, believers have enough insight to be more guided.”[16]

I do agree that there is an a fortiori, and indeed a crescendo, intent in this verse. But I would read it as follows: given that the Believers (P) are more upright in their ways (R) than the Unbelievers (Q) are; it follows that if the Unbelievers (Q) are at all upright (R) enough to be at all rightly guided (S), then the Believers are surely upright (R) enough to be even more rightly guided (S+). This is a positive subjectal (+s) argument, which goes from minor to major. The underlying proportionality would be: the more upright (R), the more right-guided (S). Notice the quantitative change in the subsidiary term from S in the minor premise to S+ in the conclusion. It is not implied that the Unbelievers are at all upright and rightly guided, but only assumed hypothetically; but it is affirmed that the Believers are, in any case, more upright (as the major premise establishes), and thence more rightly guided (presumably by the Koran, or by Muhammad, or by Allah).

·       Koran 9:107-108:

107 And as for those who chose a place of worship out of opposition and disbelief, and in order to cause dissent among the believers, and as an outpost for those who warred against Allah and His messenger aforetime, they will surely swear: We purposed naught save good. Allah beareth witness that they verily are liars.

108 Never stand (to pray) there. A place of worship which was found upon duty (to Allah) from the first day is more worthy that thou shouldst stand (to pray) therein, wherein are men who love to purify themselves. Allah loveth the purifiers.

Note that Zeraatpishe only quotes verse 108 (shown in italics); I have added verse 107 here, to make the text more comprehensible. Zeraatpishe explains this passage as follows: “In this verse two mosque (Quba (P) and the mosque which was made by hypocrites (Q)) are compared in ‘piety’ (R) as the motivation of their foundation. The hypocrites requested the prophet decisively to hold prayers (S) in their mosque so to gain credit for themselves and their mosque.” Then he proposes the following argument: “If hypocrites’ mosque is based on piety enough to be worthy that you pray in it, the Quba is more worthy that you pray in it, for it is based on piety more.”

Here again, I agree that there is an a fortiori, and indeed a crescendo, intent. I would expound it as follows: given that the [good guys’] place of worship (P), good because founded on duty from the first day, is based on more piety (R) than the [bad guys’] place of worship (Q), bad because chosen out of opposition and disbelief, etc.; it follows that if the latter is at all based on piety (R) enough to be worthy to be prayed in (S), then the former must be based on piety (R) enough to be even more worthy to be prayed in (S+). Here again, we have a positive subjectal (+s) argument, which goes from minor to major. The proportionality here would be: the more piety a place of worship is based on (R), the worthier it is to be prayed in (S). Notice the quantitative change in the subsidiary term from S in the minor premise to S+ in the conclusion. It is not implied that the bad guys’ mosque is at all based on piety and worthy to be prayed in, but only assumed hypothetically; but it is affirmed that the good guys’ mosque is, in any case, based on more piety (as the major premise establishes) and thence worthier to be prayed in.

Regarding the content, notice in passing the fierce intolerance displayed in this last passage. People with different views or practices are, typically in the Koran, treated with the utmost contempt and hatred. The tone is one of uncompromising discrimination and rejection; accusations and insults fly about like daggers. It is by means of such harsh discourse that extremism and fanaticism are, unfortunately, psychologically programmed into Muslims from their childhood; and this is what causes them to so often commit acts of violence against non-Muslims, or even Muslims of a different persuasion.

So, we can say that Zeraatpishe has identified two valid a crescendo argument of positive subjectal form in the Koran. However, we only have his word for it that “most of the a fortiori arguments in Quran are a crescendo.” He does not give us an exhaustive listing for verification; only, thus far, these two cases.

 

Next (in §3-4), Zeraatpishe claims: “It seems that the middle term in most Quranic a fortiori arguments, indicates to a range of values which include zero or less.” This, as we have just seen, is true of the preceding two examples (though he does not explicitly say so). He now proposes two more examples.

·       Koran 10:35: Say: Is there of your partners (whom ye ascribe unto Allah) one that leadeth to the Truth? Say: Allah leadeth to the Truth. Is He Who leadeth to the Truth more deserving that He should be followed, or he who findeth not the way unless he (himself) be guided. What aileth you? How judge ye?

Zeraatpishe reads this verse as follows: “‘God’ (P) has been compared with ‘His partners’ (Q) in guidance (R). Then it has been concluded that God is more qualified for ‘Being followed’ (S). In fact, there is the following a crescendo argument here: ‘The partners are guider enough to be followed; Allah guides more than his partners; more guiding more being worthy to be followed; So Allah is guider enough to be more worthy to be followed’.” (We may let pass the incomprehensible English here used.)

I agree with the assessment that an a crescendo argument is intended here. But my reading of it would be: given that Allah, who leads to the Truth independently, (P) is more reliable (R) than someone who finds not the way without being guided (Q); it follows that if the dependent guide (whoever it be) (Q) is deserving (R) enough to be followed at all (S), then the independent guide (Allah) (P) is deserving (R) enough to be followed even more (S+). This is a positive subjectal (+s) argument, from minor to major, and so valid. The tacit proportionality would be: the more deserving the guide (R), the more ought he to be followed (S).

As Zeraatpishe points out, all this does not formally exclude the possibility that the minor term (Q) has a zero or even negative value of the middle term. However, in this particular case, this would apply to “he who findeth not the way;” but, in view of the stated exception (“unless” in the text), it is not meant to apply to one who is “himself guided” (presumably in the Koran’s ways). Evidently, Zeraatpishe did not take the text at hand into account very carefully.

·       Koran 4:95: Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah hath promised good, but He hath bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary.

Zeraatpishe reads this passage as follows: “This verse compares two groups of believers: ‘Mujahidun’ (P) (those who strive in the way of Allah) with ‘Qa‘dun’ (Q) (those who strive not) in striving (R) to specify their rank (S). This verse can be said in the following a crescendo argument: ‘the Mujahidun strives more than Qa‘dun; so if Qa‘dun strives enough to get a rank; Mujahidun gets a higher rank, because more striving, higher ranking’.”[17]

The present case is also clearly a crescendo argument. I would preferably word it as follows: The believers who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives (P) are more highly ranked (R) than the believers who sit still voluntarily (i.e. except the disabled who are sedentary involuntarily). Both get a reward (S), but this is given in proportion to rank (R). If sedentary believers (Q) have enough of a rank (R) to get some reward (S), then the striving believers (P), whose rank (R) is greater, will get a greater reward (S+). Here again, the subsidiary term is greater in the conclusion (S+) than in the minor premise (S), because of the said proportionality.

Here, contrary to Zeraatpishe’s above claim, the middle term does not include the values zero or less. It seems to be always positive – meaning that any ‘believer’ is, by virtue of that fact alone, has some minimal ranking and is due to get some reward. So, this case cannot serve as an illustration of Zeraatpishe’s claim that “the middle term in most Quranic a fortiori arguments, indicates to a range of values which include zero or less.” Here again, we see that Zeraatpishe does not study the text as closely as he should.

Nevertheless, we must admit that Zeraatpishe has discovered here two more valid a crescendo arguments.

 

At his point, Zeraatpishe remarks that “There are many verses in Quran which gives such a comparison as a major premise of an a fortiori argument.” He then lists five examples[18]. But try as I might, I see no a crescendo, or even purely a fortiori, argument in them. It is therefore not clear why he lists them; we must assume this is another attempt at ‘padding’. The examples he gives are:

·       Koran 39:9: Are those who know equal with those who know not?

·       Koran 5:100: The evil and the good are not alike…

·       Koran 6:50: Are the blind man and the seer equal?

·       Koran 35: 22: Nor are the living equal with the dead.

·       Koran 59:20: Not equal are the owners of the Fire and the owners of the Garden.

A comparison might serve as major premise of an a fortiori argument; but no a fortiori argument can be claimed on that basis alone. There has to be some textual evidence of a fortiori intent for such argument to be claimed. I therefore do not accept these five cases as indicative of additional a fortiori or a crescendo argumentation in the Koran.

Next (in §3-5), Zeraatpishe begins by rightly pointing out that “Sion has clarified that an a fortiori argument is not a mere comparison, although it is based on it. The difference is the subsidiary term which exists only in the former.” Zeraatpishe apparently shows clear understanding of this principle. But then he seems to differ, saying: “there is no mere comparison in Quran, although some of the four terms required is not explicitly cited.” In other words, according to him, all comparisons in the Koran are intended to point to an a fortiori argument.

To defend this viewpoint, he again cites Surah 39:9, “Are those who know equal with those who know not?” According to him, this verse “is suggesting a subjectal a crescendo argument,” because a certain commentator, one Tabatabayi, reads it as: “as the talented persons (P) are not equal to the general public (Q) in level of knowledge (R); they will not have equal responsibilities (S) either.”[19] But there is no textual evidence whatsoever, in the verse (or anywhere around it), for the idea of unequal consequent responsibilities (S) for the two classes of people mentioned (P and Q) with reference to their respective levels of knowledge (R).

Zeraatpishe here tries to read an a fortiori (indeed a crescendo) argument into the text, instead of reading the argument out of the text. The commentator he refers to may not have had the same ambition; he may have been using the verse merely as a springboard for a homily, without claiming deductive status[20]. Presumably, Zeraatpishe wants us to suppose that the other four verses he mentions in this context (viz. 5:100, 6:50, 35:22, 59:20) also suggest a crescendo arguments, though he does not spell out these claims. Clearly, Zeraatpishe is here again trying to artificially inflate the number of a fortiori arguments in the Koran!

Hermeneutics, the art of interpreting texts accurately, cannot accept such unscientific projections of meaning into text. I do not say that all the terms of a putative a fortiori argument must be manifest in the text; but I do say that there must be some sort of evidence within the given text (ad loc or thereabouts) that some such terms and argument are intended. One cannot claim just whatever one pleases as “implicit” – there has to be some clear enough basis for it in what is explicit. One has to be honest, and not try to slant the data at hand in whatever way. Clearly, in the eight cases[21] that Zeraatpishe has thus far proposed in his paper, and that I rejected after due consideration, there was no textual basis.

 

Next (in §3-6), Zeraatpishe draws attention to “the causal role of the middle term.” The single example of this phenomenon that he gives is:

·       Koran 2:247: Their Prophet said unto them: Lo! Allah hath raised up Saul to be a king for you. They said: How can he have kingdom over us when we are more deserving of the kingdom than he is, since he hath not been given wealth enough? He said: Lo! Allah hath chosen him above you, and hath increased him abundantly in wisdom and stature. Allah bestoweth His Sovereignty on whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.

Zeraatpishe expounds as follows: “This verse firstly refers to the wrong argument of some Jewish to show disqualifying “Talut” (Saul) for kingdom: ‘We have more wealth than him, so if he deserve kingdom, we deserve that more’. This argument will be valid and true, if ‘wealth’ as the middle term is the right cause for giving kingdom to Saul. But at the continuing part of the verse, this idea is denied and wisdom and stature have been introduced as true middle term. So the true argument, according to the Quran, is as follows: ‘If you have enough wisdom and stature to be kingdom, Saul has more wisdom and stature, so he is more qualified for kingdom’. Be careful that finding the true middle term is not a formal activity and has nothing to do with validity; it is a hermeneutical (not logical) affair.”

The a fortiori argument apparent in the text is: We (the objectors to Saul’s appointment as king) (P) are wealthier (R) than Saul (Q); so, if Saul (Q) is wealthy (R) enough to deserve the kingdom (S), then we (P) are wealthy (R) enough to deserve it (S), maybe (if merit is proportional to wealth) even more (S+). This is a formally valid positive subjectal (+s) a fortiori, and maybe a crescendo, argument, irrespective of the truth of its content; it can therefore be counted as one of the a fortiori arguments in the Koran.

The problem with it is not its form; but its content. The Koran itself tells us that those (the objectors) who formulated this argument wrongly assumed that the decision to appoint Saul king (S) was based on his wealth (R); it suggests that the decision had more to do with his greater “wisdom and stature”[22]; and that, anyway: “Allah bestoweth His Sovereignty on whom He will.” In this way, even granting the major premise to be true (i.e. that Saul is poorer than the other candidates), the minor premise is rejected: we are told, effectively, that no amount of wealth (R) will suffice to merit being appointed king (S).

This discourse thus provides, within the Koran, a perfect illustration of how an a fortiori argument, however formally valid it may be, may be rejected with reference to the inappropriateness of some part of its content – in the present case, the proposed middle term, “wealth.” This is therefore an interesting example, which adds something new to Islamic logic[23], that Zeraatpishe has identified. He deserves credit for that.

However, it should be said that Zeraatpishe’s analysis is not entirely correct. It is not accurate to say that “wisdom and stature have been introduced as true middle term.” In truth, these qualities have been introduced as motivating (i.e. being the cause of) the appointment of Saul, but not as the middle term of any further argument. There is no second a fortiori argument, here; there is only the neutralization of the first argument, by denying the truth of its minor premise (not by changing its middle term). One can only, at best, claim the following positive apodosis: only if anyone has a certain degree of wisdom and stature, then he is qualified to be king: Saul has the requisite degree, and no one else; therefore, Saul deserves to be king. One could also suppose that the selection of Saul was arbitrary (“on whom He will”); and that the “increase in wisdom and stature” was not the motive of this selection, but was effected in addition to or as a consequence of this selection.

Zeraatpishe wrongly claims that a new a fortiori argument is tacitly intended, since he says: “So the true argument, according to the Quran, is as follows: ‘If you have enough wisdom and stature to be kingdom, Saul has more wisdom and stature, so he is more qualified for kingdom’.” One cannot argue a fortiori, as Zeraatpishe attempts to do, that Saul (P) has greater wisdom and stature (R) than the others (Q); and the others (Q) have enough wisdom and stature (R) to be qualified, if only somewhat, for the kingdom (S); therefore, Saul has enough wisdom and stature (R) to be qualified, even more, for the kingdom (S+). Why not? Simply because nowhere in the source text is the putative minor premise hinted at – there is no evidence that if Saul were not available for the job, any of the other candidates (even if somewhat wise and elevated) would have been chosen.[24]

So, with regard to the above quoted verse, we can say that Zeraatpishe has correctly discovered one more a crescendo argument; but we must also note that his attempt to propose a second one was a fail. As regards his understanding of the Koran text, we see here again that it is based on rough reading; he does not notice the fine details and take them into consideration.

Regarding the story under consideration, of Saul’s appointment by God to the throne of Israel, it should be mentioned that there is no mention in the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) of any people objecting to Saul’s appointment as king of Israel because of his wealth. The Koran narrative is nonsensical. The events leading to Saul becoming king are described in 1 Samuel 9-11[25]. The prophet Samuel presents Saul to the people as chosen by God for the task, saying “there is none like him among all the people,” and “all the people” shout “Long live the king!” (10:24). There was, it is true, some dissenters, since it is written: “But certain base fellows said: ‘How shall this man save us?’ And they despised him” (10:27). However, the reason for this dissent, according to Jewish commentators, was that Saul hailed from Benjamin, the smallest and least influential of the 12 tribes, and therefore apparently lacked the broad power base needed in those days to gather an army large enough to wage eventual wars. The text itself suggests this, since it says: “how shall this man save us”[26]. When Saul did thereafter inspire the whole people to go to war, against Ammonite invaders, and Israel thoroughly defeated the enemy, his kingship was vindicated in everyone’s eyes (11:11-13).

As can be seen from this example (and very many others), whoever wrote the Koran was not well-acquainted with the Tanakh (and still less with other Jewish literature already existing at the time); and so, missed many significant details and invented other details. Furthermore, he (or they) had a very superficial understanding (if any) of the portions of it that he (or they) used. The Koran appears rich and credible to Muslims, because they are not personally acquainted with its Tanakh (and other) sources. Whereas Christians do study the Tanakh often, Muslims never do; because, if they did, they would see for themselves the Koran’s partly derivative and partly fictional status, and quickly lose faith in it. True knowledge requires courage and effort, and sadly they lack both. And of course, there are vested interests: if the people were emancipated, the Islamic authorities would lose their totalitarian stranglehold.

 

Next (in §3-7), Zeraatpishe discusses “enthymeme arguments,” i.e. arguments not entirely explicit. He notes a past remark of mine to the effect that “logical arguments seldom come with all premises.” He proposes four examples of this, claiming them to be a fortiori arguments. This first is:

·       Koran 3:59: Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, then He said unto him: Be! and he is.

Zeraatpishe interprets this verse as being “against the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is not a regular human, but the son of God,” in accord with a commentary by Tabatabayi, who rejects “the godhood of Jesus” because “there is nothing more in his creation than the creation of Adam. So if the type and method of his creation causes him to become God, the same cause applies for Adam as well. So since the Christians don’t regard Adam as The Lord, they should not consider Jesus to be The Lord either.”[27]

Zeraatpishe pursues: “According to this explanation, the verse is a negative egalitarian a fortiori argument, which can be said as follows: ‘If Adam (P) who has no father is not irregular (R) enough to be a God (S), so Jesus (Q) equally is not irregular enough to be a God’. This verse can be said in the following superior a fortiori argument too: ‘Adam is more irregular than Jesus, because if Jesus has no father, Adam has neither father nor mother, so if Adam is not irregular enough to be a God, Jesus all the more is not irregular enough to be a God’.”

My analysis of the Koranic verse would be as follows: the sentence “the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam” can be viewed as an egalitarian major premise: Jesus (Q) has the same likeness with Allah (R) that Adam has (P). The sentence “He created him of dust, then He said unto him: Be! and he is” simply means that ‘he’ was created, which can fairly be taken to imply that ‘he’ is not a god or a son of God. Who is ‘he’ (the person referred to by the pronoun “him”)? Jesus is not directly intended; because if he was, the major premise mentioning Adam would be logically useless. So, “him” here refers first to Adam; and then only, by deduction, to Jesus. So, this sentence tells us both the minor premise and (by implication) conclusion of the argument: just as He created Adam out of dust, so He created Jesus out of dust.

But is this an a fortiori argument? We can reasonably cast it as such, as follows: if Adam’s (P) likeness with Allah (R) is not enough to qualify him as anything more than a mere creature (S), then Jesus’ (Q) likeness with Allah (R) is not enough to qualify him as anything more than a mere creature (S). This is an egalitarian negative subjectal a fortiori argument. Since we wanted it to go from Adam to Jesus, we had to choose Adam as the major term (we could formally, of course, have equally well gone in the opposite direction, but this would not be in accord with the source text’s intention). Is this an enthymeme? Hardly, since we have not added any terms or ideas to those given in the text. But obviously, some interpretative work is involved; so, we could, if we wish, refer to this as an enthymeme (it is not a big issue).

As above mentioned, Zeraatpishe also proposes a “negative egalitarian a fortiori argument” (he does not specify it as subjectal, as he should have, however). However, his proposal is not apposite, since he brings to bear ideas not given in the text under consideration; namely, the reference to both Adam and Jesus not having had a (flesh and blood) father. His major premise is also new, namely that Adam is as “irregular” (i.e. “not a regular human”) (R) as Jesus. This thought causes Zeraatpishe to propose an additional a fortiori argument, this time “superior” (without mentioning that it is also negative subjectal), based on the idea that whereas Adam lacked both a father and a mother, Jesus lacked only a father (but had a mother). Here, the major premise is no longer egalitarian, since Adam is now more “irregular” (R) than Jesus.

However, while Zeraatpishe correctly places Adam in the minor premise, and Jesus in the conclusion; and his two a fortiori arguments are formally valid; and the thoughts they express (about lacking one or both parents) are true (according to the sources taken for granted) – we must say that Zeraatpishe’s theory does not accurately reflect what is stated in the verse under scrutiny. Both his proposed a fortiori arguments are fabrications, needlessly projected onto the Koranic text. To him, therefore, the verse is enthymemic; but in fact, it is not really, since an a fortiori argument can be formed from it without adding the extra material. Therefore, while Zeraatpishe deserves credit for drawing attention to the said verse as involving an a fortiori argument, he should be reprimanded for proposing two interpretations that unnecessarily deviate from the text. My interpretation is more accurate.

What about the argument proposed by Tabatabayi? It takes the following form: The creation of Jesus does not differ from that of Adam; so, if the former’s type and method of creation makes him godly, then the latter’s should have the same result; but Christians do not regard Adam as godly, so they should not regard Jesus as godly, either. An egalitarian negative a fortiori argument can be built from this; namely: Jesus (Q) is as special a creation (R) as Adam (P) is; and Adam (P) was created in a way not special (R) enough to make him a god (S); therefore, Jesus (Q) was created in a way not special (R) enough to make him a god (S). This is formally valid, and it matches Zeraatpishe’s first interpretation. This means that Tabatabayi’s interpretation is not exactly in accord with the Koranic text; it introduces new ideas not found in it. It can also be said that Zeraatpishe’s second interpretation is novel (i.e. not copied from Tabatabayi, as far as we know).

Now, let us briefly consider the credibility of the argument proposed in the present Koranic verse from a wider perspective. The argument is materially not unassailable. A Jew[28] would, like a Muslim, accept the major premise’s claim that the “likeness to God” (whatever that means) of Adam and Jesus is identical; but a Christian[29] could well deny that claim, and retort that, though both Adam and Jesus have this feature in common, they have it to different degrees. Moreover, a Christian could well argue that the creation of Adam differs from the creation of Jesus; Adam’s body could be made of earthly material, whereas Jesus’ body might be made of finer stuff; in that case, the inference from one creation mode to the next would be inoperative. And so forth.

In other words, the argument made by the Koran is far from conclusive, being rather circular. For someone who already believes its premises, it seems credible enough; but for one who disagrees with them, it has no force of conviction. I am not personally defending Christian belief; but merely pointing out that it is defensible, in this context, in this way. My main point is that, here again, the Koran’s logic is only relatively forceful; it does not have absolute force. It follows that Muslims cannot argue that anyone who is not convinced by such arguments is a miscreant. If the Koran’s argument is weak, that is the fault of whoever wrote it!

Zeraatpishe additionally claims the following to be “some other verses with enthymeme a fortiori arguments;” but he makes no effort to analyze them and demonstrate their a fortiori status. Looking at them, I do not see any argument in them.

·       Koran 3:162: Is one who followeth the pleasure of Allah as one who hath earned condemnation from Allah, whose habitation is the Fire, a hapless journey’s end?

·       Koran 16:17: Is He then Who createth as him who createth not? Will ye not then remember?

·       Koran 40:20: Allah judgeth with truth, while those to whom they cry instead of Him judge not at all. Lo! Allah, He is the Hearer, the Seer.

They are just statements of comparison and contrast: a follower of Allah is not comparable to a non-follower; a Creator is not the same as a non-Creator; Allah judges with truth, while the others judge not at all. These are not arguments, let alone a fortiori arguments; no inference is made or implied in them. Here again, Zeraatpishe indulges in wild claims, without proving his assertions. This is all just more ‘padding’ on his part; trying to make the Koran look more rational than it is, or trying to take credit for more discoveries than he has made.

Thus, to conclude this section, Zeraatpishe can be credited with discovering one more a fortiori argument in the Koran (namely, 3:59). However, he does not analyze it correctly; misled by the commentary of Tabatabayi, he reads two a fortiori arguments into the text that are just not there. He thinks that by labeling the verse as enthymemic, he is justified in adding material to it; but this is not acceptable, since an a fortiori argument can (as I show) be constructed without adding material. Thus, while Zeraatpishe (to repeat) has found a verse pregnant with a fortiori argument, he has not actually managed to deliver the a fortiori argument; this I had to do in his stead. Furthermore, we should note that Zeraatpishe spuriously claims three more verses (viz. 3:162, 16:17, and 40:20) as (enthymemic) a fortiori arguments.

 

3.    Summary of results

Having in the previous section carefully examined and evaluated the cases of a fortiori argument proposed by Zeraatpishe in his paper, we can draw the following conclusions. There are in the Koran at least 11 confirmed instances of a fortiori discourse. Of these cases, one was initially found by me (AS) in A Fortiori Logic, and another was found by me in the course of the present study. Zeraatpishe (MZ) can lay claim to having found nine (9) more valid cases. However, while these cases were rightly pointed out by him, he did not interpret them all. One case (3:59), he misinterpreted; and I had to interpret it for him. Three cases (6:94-95, 17:51, 75:37-40), he did not interpret at all; and I had to interpret them for him. The remaining five cases (2:247, 4:95, 9:107-108, 10:35, 67:22) he did interpret correctly (although not very ably, perhaps due to difficulty with English). This is made clear in the following table:

 

 

Of the eleven cases of a fortiori argument so far found in the Koran, notice, five are positive subjectal (+s), one is negative subjectal (-s), and five are positive predicatal (+p); none are negative predicatal (-p). Moreover, note, five cases are a crescendo (&), while six cases are purely a fortiori. Needless to say, there may well in fact be more cases of a fortiori argument in the Koran, and more might in time be discovered; but only eleven cases have been found so far.

Zeraatpishe actually proposed fourteen (14) more cases; but following our analysis in the present study they were rejected. One case (43:81) was rejected as quite contrived. In one case (2:247), although he rightly read the main argument, he wrongly assumed that there was a second a fortiori argument. In another case (3:59), although he rightly identified the presence of a fortiori argument, he wrongly read the argument in two different ways (adding redundant information). In the remaining ten cases (see table below, “no afa”), Zeraatpishe claims a fortiori arguments where there are in fact none (perhaps just to ‘pad’ his thesis). Additionally, we should note that Zeraatpishe missed one a fortiori argument (17:49-51) that was present next to one that he did find.

 

 

From the above-listed data, we can estimate Zeraatpishe’s general skill at finding and correctly reading a fortiori arguments. He found nine valid cases, he missed one case right under his nose, and he wrongly claimed or misread fourteen cases; therefore, his failure rate was: 15/24 = 63% (i.e. work done almost two-thirds erroneous, in some way or other); and this is not taking into account his weakness at interpretation (5 cases) or non-interpretation (4 cases) of the valid cases that he has found. This is slipshod work. Nevertheless, Zeraatpishe must be congratulated for having in fact discovered nine new cases of a fortiori argument in the Koran; that is the important thing.

In his Abstract, Zeraatpishe makes the following broad claim: “The author of this article [i.e. Zeraatpishe himself] has already discussed the case briefly in an article titled ‘A Fortiori Logic in Quran’ (in Persian) and showed that not only the claim of absence of such logic in Quran is wrong, but it seems that a fortiori logic can be considered a fundamental logic in Quran. The current article is, in fact, a developed version of the previous discussion, and tries to elaborate more Quranic examples about what is called ‘A Fortiori Logic’ by Sion, so to reveal wider aspects of a fortiori arguments in Quran.”

I let the reader of the present review judge for himself whether this boast by Zeraatpishe is justified. Note that he does not claim he has more a fortiori arguments up his sleeve in the earlier paper. Do 11 confirmed a fortiori arguments in the whole Koran (assuming no more are found in the future) suggest that such argument is a “fundamental” logical instrument in the Koran? I would call that an occasional and rather incidental occurrence. For comparison, there are 46 cases in the Jewish Tanakh (as well as 42 cases in the Mishna and probably hundreds of cases in the Gemara); and 36 cases in the Christian New Testament. In the writings of Plato, there are at least 15 cases; and in those of Aristotle, at least 80 cases. Clearly, while a fortiori argument may be said to be “fundamental” to Judaic logic, the same cannot be said of Islamic logic.

 

I should at this point disclose that there was an exchange of e-mails between Zeraatpishe and myself, prior to his publishing the paper here reviewed. This happened between end November 2013, and end August 2016; and it involved some 30 messages each way. Though the correspondence was initiated by Zeraatpishe asking me questions on a fortiori logic and other topics, I also welcomed it as an opportunity to ask him some questions on Arabic language and Islamic philosophy. Much ground was covered; and the tone was respectful, even friendly, but also frank. I repeatedly encouraged him to push on with his research and to publish its results; and he expressed gratitude.

Looking back, now, at this conversation[30], I see that many of the views expressed by him in his eventual essay, and by me in my present review of it, were already rehearsed in the e-mails. Judging by some of his questions and answers, I can see that Zeraatpishe did not, or not carefully, read the whole chapter 11 of AFL, let alone the whole of AFL. It is also clear from his questions and answers to me that Zeraatpishe did not have prior knowledge of a fortiori logic, nor acquire such knowledge thereafter, from Islamic sources; this belies his later claim, in the paper under review, that such logic is something known, indeed well known, to Islamic commentators. I am also amazed and saddened to see that Zeraatpishe did not pay much heed to my good advice on different issues!

Zeraatpishe, in his e-mails, proposed three verses from the Koran as examples of a fortiori argument. His first two examples were 10:35 and 67:22, both of which I immediately approved, although I disagreed with his vague reading of them (even as he tried claiming that some things make sense in Arabic in ways that English cannot reproduce); his last was 43:81, which I immediately refuted. It is interesting that our respective positions have remained essentially the same in the present context. Albeit all my remonstrances, he did not budge from his inadequate readings. The reader of the present essay can judge for himself who is right, as both our positions are clearly spelled out. Zeraatpishe did not consult me as regards his many other claims of a fortiori argument in the Koran; I only found out about them when I read his paper. Nevertheless, even in their cases, it is evident to me that he blithely ignored my general advice.

My general advice included: aiming for clarity and precision; sticking close to the text at hand when interpreting it; reading ‘out of’ the text, instead of ‘into’ it; casting putative arguments in standard forms to check their a fortiori status; making sure not to confuse the middle and subsidiary terms; and much more. Evidently, he did not take my recommendations to heart. Many of his interpretations are approximate and fanciful; in many cases, he does not take the trouble to formally check the a fortiori status; and in one case (43:81), he blurs the distinction between middle and subsidiary terms seemingly deliberately in order to make the argument seem a fortiori and improve the score.

From the fact that he did not announce to me having completed[31] and presumably published[32] his paper, I infer that he knew I would take a dim view of some of its contents. The following verse (v. 64) from the Dhammapada would be a fitting expression of my disappointment at Zeraatpishe’s ineptitude: “If during the whole of his life a fool lives with a wise man, he never knows the path of wisdom as the spoon never knows the taste of soup.

 

4.    Fake general claims

Next, (in 3-8), Zeraatpishe claims that:

 

“What is called by Sion a fortiori argument is nothing more than ‘Qiyas al-Uwlawiyyah’ or ‘Qiyas Bitariq ‘Ula’ (both literally meant ‘Superior Syllogism) in Islamic tradition which is sometimes used by Islamic theologians as the opposite of ‘Qiyas al-Adna’ or ‘Qiyas al-Mosavat’ (i.e. respectively ‘inferior’ and ‘egalitarian’ Syllogism).”[33]

 

This (“nothing more than”) is a lie, intended to make it appear like Islamic theologians knew about a fortiori argument, and that in three varieties (superior, inferior and egalitarian)[34]. Zeraatpishe does not, note well, tell us when and by whom the said three terms were first used and discussed. Moreover, note well, he does not quote or even mention any Islamic text where a fortiori argument was clearly identified and intelligently discussed. His boast of traditional knowledge is, therefore, empty. Furthermore, these terms, taken alone, are very rough; they do not highlight the important distinctions between subjectal and predicatal, positive and negative, copulative and implicational, or pure and a crescendo, forms of a fortiori argument, which distinctions are indispensable to full understanding of a fortiori argument. Zeraatpishe here translates the Arabic term qiyas as “syllogism;” but the correct translation (generally found in books on the subject) for this term is ‘argument’ in a general sense. In any case, this does not refer to a fortiori argument, for which (significantly) Islamic commentators have no specific name.[35]

What the above-named three qiyas in fact refer to, are mere arguments by analogy, which go from a greater, a lesser or an equal term, to a lesser, a greater or an equal term, respectively. Arguments by analogy are less complex and less certain than arguments a fortiori or a crescendo[36]. I say this clearly in AFL 11:3:

Lastly comes qiyas, which is usually translated as ‘argument by analogy’, although, while this may be accurate etymologically, the term in practice seems (as we shall see) to refer more broadly to any sort of deductive or inductive inference used to derive laws from Koran, Sunna or consensus. Qiyas thus corresponds somewhat to the hermeneutic principles (middot, in Hebrew) used in Jewish jurisprudence, or potentially even more largely to logic in general (mantiq, in Arabic).

I discuss Islamic knowledge and understanding of a fortiori argument in considerable detail (with reference to modern and earlier sources) in AFL 11:4; but apparently Zeraatpishe did not take the trouble to study this discussion carefully, if at all. My conclusion was that “classical Islamic jurists did not manage to truly grasp the distinctive features of a fortiori argument. They could apparently intuitively use the argument (some forms of it, at least) correctly, but they could not pinpoint how and why it works.” I need not repeat my analysis here; but only repeat that Zeraatpishe’s above-said claim is apologetic bunk.

Next, Zeraatpishe claims:

 

“Using ‘Qiyas al-Uwlawiyyah’ or not is a hot issue in Islamic Jurisprudence. Shiites, according to some hadiths of their imams use it very rare and carefully to be more bound to their holy texts. I think that the lack of the very binding is why there are some a fortiori arguments in Jewish texts which forces someone like Sion to try hard to show that an a fortiori argument can be materially valid, while being formally invalid (see: 2013, p. 70)! The lack of this problem (i.e. being materially valid andn formally invalid) in Quranic logical arguments amplifies this theory that Quran is not distorted, or at least as distorted, as Jewish texts.”

 

It may be true that Shiite commentators are more reluctant to resort to qiyas than their Sunni rivals. As I point out in AFL 11:3: “Shia scholars refer to ‘aql (the rational faculty), rather than qiyas (arguments), to explain their inferences.” To determine what this distinction means precisely would require a great deal of study; but I suspect offhand that such study would reveal that Shiites do as much reading into (as against out of) the Koran text as their Sunni rivals, though perhaps not in the same ways. This methodological issue is probably just a sectarian squabble by means of which they differentiate themselves; and justify distinctive doctrines. Certainly, as we have seen above (re. 3:59), Zeraatpishe and the commentator Tabatabayi that he refers to, are in practice both quite willing to read stuff into the Koran text that is just not there!

As regards Zeraatpishe’s remark concerning me, claiming that I “try hard to show that an a fortiori argument can be materially valid, while being formally invalid” – I see no evidence of my having ever said anything of the sort on the page he cites or anywhere else! This just snide disinformation[37]. Maybe I said somewhere that an argument might seem materially valid to someone while it is in fact formally invalid. Or maybe I said somewhere that an argument can intuitively appear materially valid well before it is established as formally valid (one could claim this true of all valid arguments). But I surely never said that an argument can be materially valid and formally invalid! Clearly, either Zeraatpishe completely misunderstood something he read somewhere, or he was trying to invent some reason to criticize my work because he could find none.[38]

Similarly, his claim that “this problem (i.e. being materially valid andn formally invalid)” is lacking in Koranic logical arguments, but present in Jewish texts, is pure fabrication. As we have seen above, Zeraatpishe himself proposes a considerable number of Koran passages as suggestive of a fortiori argument, where in fact none are manifest[39]. Surely, we can surmise that these cases seemed to him “materially valid,” although they were in fact “formally invalid.” In particular, we caught Zeraatpishe trying hard to force an a fortiori reading of verse 43:81. So, he can hardly be said to practice what he claims to preach. Nowhere does he show any example where I behave in the same logically illicit way.

Of course, this whole comment of his is designed to buttress his spurious claim that “Quran is not distorted, or at least as distorted, as Jewish texts.” Continuing along this line, he makes a distinction between qiyas where the “middle term is cited explicitly in Quran and Hadith” and those where the “middle term is inferred.” He claims that Shiites almost never use the latter in their jurisprudence[40], because they believe it leads to distortion. According to him, too, Shiites are very careful to “be more bound to their holy texts.” Judging by what we have seen above, this claim is more baloney: we have seen that Zeraatpishe, and both the commentators he quotes (Makarim for 43:81 and Tabatabayi for 3:59)[41], use without qualms middle terms not explicitly given in the Koran.

Moreover, we have seen that Zeraatpishe is often unsure what precisely the middle term intended is, even though it is present in the text (thus, in 4:95, in 10:35 and in 67:22); he is not very perceptive. Furthermore, I have in several contexts above reproached Zeraatpishe for his failure to stick close to the text under investigation, and his willingness to interpret it as he wills. See my comments in this regard in the analyses above of 2:247, 3:59, 4:95, 10:35, and 39:9. In the latter case, it looks like Tabatabayi may be guilty of similar misreading. Also note the many cases (already listed above) where Zeraatpishe claims that there is a fortiori argument when there is none; he must have been misreading the verses concerned to have so misinterpreted them.

Zeraatpishe then suggests: “In comparison, It seems that most of Jewish a fortiori arguments are [devoid of middle term], if not all .” Here again, Zeraatpishe does not provide a list of examples to back his claim, or even just one example to illustrate it. I do, in AFL (and before that in my book Judaic Logic), point out that the middle term must very often be guessed at (no doubt he got the idea from there); but I do not anywhere claim that this is something peculiar to “Jewish” texts – it is something probably found in all world literature. Moreover, it is not something restricted to a fortiori argument, but something also found in other forms of argument, such as syllogism or analogical argument. The reason for this practice is simply discursive economy: there is no need to specify something that most readers can easily enough gather from the context. The issue is: when is such ‘gathering’ justified, and when is it not justified?

 

5.    Apologetic nonsense

One can discern, in Zeraatpishe’s repeated negative insinuations about Jewish texts and people, that he has anti-Semitic tendencies. Such animus is not surprising, considering that at one point he quotes a Holocaust-denier (the Grand Ayatollah Makarim). Most Muslims, and perhaps especially Iranian ones, have a big chip on their shoulder concerning Jews; no doubt this is due to the many gratuitous negative statements concerning Jews in the Koran and Hadiths. In his Abstract, Zeraatpishe calls me “a Jewish logician;” but I have never called myself that. I may be called a Jewish philosopher, because some (though certainly not all) of my thought is influenced by Judaism. But there is no basis for calling me “a Jewish logician,” even if some of my work has consisted in analyzing Judaic logic, because when it comes to logical analysis I don’t play favorites but do my work in a scientific spirit. Just because I have analyzed Islamic or Christian or Buddhist logic does not make me “a Muslim logician,” etc.

But it is evident that Zeraatpishe’s motivation in making such statements is not only anti-Semitic. Zeraatpishe comes on as a defender of or an apologist for Islam. He is evidently hurt by various statements I made in AFL denying the spiritual credibility of the Koran; and he wants to retaliate. He has correctly understood my there deriding the low frequency and low level of reasoning in the Koran and Hadiths as indicative of intellectual poverty in Islam. As he puts it in his Abstract: “Raising such a claim might be done with the purpose of ignoring the logical equivalence of Jewish and Christian scriptures and Quran, so to prevent the idea that all these texts originate from the same source.” This is the crux of the matter – whether the Koran has a direct Divine origin (through dictation to Muhammad by an angel), or whether it is a man-made assemblage of snippets drawn from various Jewish, Christian and other pre-existing sources (be they of Divine origin or not) and some novel fantasies.[42]

As we have seen, Zeraatpishe left many cases without interpretation; he assumed or claimed that they were valid a fortiori arguments without actually demonstrating it by proposing a credible interpretation. This may have been laziness or negligence on his part; but I tend to think (as already indicated) that it was deliberate ‘padding’ to make the Koran look more frequently logical than it really is. Zeraatpishe makes a strange remark, in his concluding section (§4):

 

“In spite of Sion’s claim, there are so many a fortiori arguments in Quran in which the formal principles of a fortiori arguments said by Sion is respected. Most of Quranic a fortiori arguments are a crescendo which in their validity do not need the extra endeavor that Sion devoted to justify Jewish arguments to show some kind of material validation.”

 

Here, Zeraatpishe seems to be saying that Koranic a fortiori arguments do not need to be justified – they are, he seems to be saying, valid without the extra endeavor normally devoted to show some sort of concrete validation. Does he imagine, then, that Koranic arguments are exempt from the logical requirement of scrutiny and validation? Does he imagine that it suffices for him to claim them to be a fortiori for them to indeed be a fortiori? Perhaps that would explain why he so often makes false claims about specific Koranic arguments being a fortiori when in fact they are not[43]. In any case, this statement suggests that Zeraatpishe does not really understand formal logic and our absolute need of it for definitive validation of material arguments. Clearly, the anti-Jewish slant of Zeraatpishe’s thinking leads him astray here; he cannot judge Islamic logic objectively because he has a supremacist axe to grind.

That Zeraatpishe very desperately wants to prove not only the equality of Islam, as he slyly pretends, but its superiority over Judaism and Christianity, is made evident in his concluding remarks:

 

“This characteristic can amplify the theory that Quranic texts are less distorted than Jewish texts, if distorted at all. The important role of a fortiori logic in Quran, concerning its important role in Jewish and Christian texts, will also fortify this theory that the origin of Islamic, Jewish and Christian texts is the same. In other words, logical similarity of Quran, Jewish and Christian has been cleared by Sion, while striving to deny it.”

 

At this point, Zeraatpishe piously quotes some Koran rant: “They want to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah has decided to let His light shine (verse 32 Surah Tawbah).” This is of course an incantation, which Zeraatpishe uses to exorcise his own fears and give himself courage, and throw opprobrium on his adversaries. The suggestion here (and frequently throughout the Koran) that disbelief in the Koran is motivated by disbelief in God is without basis in fact. Such statements are really argument by intimidation, expressing dark hostility to anyone who disagrees (labeled ‘infidels’), and implicitly threatening them. Then, Zeraatpishe comes to his closing argument, delivered in a pseudo-reasonable tone:

 

“However one problem might come to mind. The Muslims believe that Jewish and Christian scriptures have been distorted. Knowing that, someone may ask ‘how on earth it is possible to find the same thing as a fundamental logic in Quran and Jewish and Christian texts?’ To answer this question, it shall be considered that, when distorting someone’s speech, usually the material of its speech changes, not its form and context. Distortion of a religion, naturally, occurs in the same context of that religion which includes its underlying logic.”

 

Clearly, Zeraatpishe’s main concern is not logic, but religious dispute. What is involved here is the utterly ridiculous Muslim claim that the Koran historically anteceded the Jewish and Christian Bibles. This canard is, of course, a brazen attempt at cultural appropriation and replacement theology; and it has no basis whatsoever in empirical, scientific history. There is no doubt whatsoever from extant historical documents and unearthed artifacts that these documents anteceded the Koran. Ancient peoples like the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians knew of Israelites, but never heard of Muslims. The Greeks and Romans knew about Judaism, and later about Christianity; but never heard of Islam. These facts cannot be dismissed in favor of the Islamic fabrication of chronological precedence, for which exactly zero evidence of any sort is put forward. This Muslim invention is contrary to inductive logic, which requires that solid empirical evidence be given absolute preference over any groundless fantasy claims. Logic has certainly every right to scrutinize and criticize material faith-based claims; it is not limited in scope to formal issues.

It is interesting that certain Arabs, who only a few decades ago started to call themselves “Palestinians,” are now using the same meme to claim that they inhabited the Land of Israel well before the Jews. Recently, in a speech before the UN, their current leader Mahmoud Abbas shamelessly claimed that his “people” have lived on that land for 5000 years! In other venues, he has repeatedly denied that today’s Jews have any connection to this ancestral Jewish land, accusing them of being invaders and colonialists. This is simply identity theft, attempted reversal of historical roles. This is not astonishing, considering that this vile man has often in the past denied the Holocaust of 6 million Jews by the Nazis.

Such historical revisionism apparently sounds convincing to people devoid of any knowledge of history; but to anyone who has studied the matter, it is cynical prevarication. Clearly, Muslims imagine that they can get away with any falsification of history that serves their interests. Being themselves easily fooled by the confabulations of their own teachers and leaders, they think they can in turn fool other people. They do not realize just how intellectually and ethically retarded they are, even while they live in the 21st Century. Their bodies are in this century, but their hearts and minds are still firmly stuck in the 7th Century.

Furthermore, examination of the three documents here discussed makes clear the relative position of the Koran. The Jewish Bible (Tanakh) mentions neither the Christian Bible nor the Muslim Koran, whereas the Christian Bible mentions and refers to the Jewish Bible but not the Muslim Koran, while the Muslim Koran mentions and refers to both the Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible. This tells us the order of things. Moreover, as we have seen with a couple of examples above, while the Jewish and Christian Bibles tells their stories in a chronologically ordered manner, the Koran retells some of their stories in a very disorderly manner. It is clear, reading the Koran, that it is referring to pre-existing stories and ideas, and merely recalling them and commenting on them, sometimes more or less correctly, but very often in a very inaccurate manner[44]. If any logic is indeed found in the Koran, it is logic that it has learned from its Jewish, Christian and other sources; the Koran has certainly not taught any logic to Jews or Christians. Instead of being grateful to those who taught them, Muslims arrogantly claim being the teachers.

No one had ever heard of the Koran till it appeared in the 7th (or maybe only the 8th) Century CE. It wasn’t ‘hidden’ somewhere till then – it just did not exist yet. When it appeared, the Jewish narrative was already some 1900 years long (counting from Moses to Muhammad), and the Christian narrative was already some 600 years long (counting from Jesus to Muhammad). Nineteen centuries and six centuries! During which time no one ever heard of the Koran, no one ever mentioned it, and it left no material trace whatever anywhere! Muhammad (who is mentioned in the Koran) was not born yet; so, no one could possibly speak of him yet (not even a ‘hidden’ Koran). This is plain commonsense, which any sincere person would readily agree with. And yet Muslim commentators like Zeraatpishe choose to imagine and boast that the Koran came first, and that the other two books were “distortions” of it! Can any doctrinal claim be more illogical and dishonest than that one? An earlier document cannot “distort” a later document.

Another absurd claim Muslims make is that the Koran existed even before Creation. This claim may be viewed as a further attempt by Islam at one-upmanship over the two said religions that preceded it. However, funnily enough, even that claim is a copycat claim, being found in Talmud and Midrash in favor of the Torah, long before Islam appeared! And indeed, this meme of “before the world came into being” is found, in some form or other, in other religions. In Christianity, Jesus is said to have existed before the world; and similarly, in Buddhism (at least the Mahayana branch), Siddhartha Gautama. Such claims are common, because they serve to give a sect more ‘legitimacy’.

Logically, the idea that the Koran – or the Torah, for that matter – preceded the material world is a non-starter. Such a claim is self-contradictory. God might have had certain abstract ideas, plans, guiding principles or laws in mind, which were later written into the document; but surely, granting the existence of freewill, the concrete people and stories in the document could not be predetermined. God might have seen all events beforehand; but he could not, without paradoxical circularity, create the world on their basis (the past must precede the future in all respects – the past cannot in any way be caused by the future).

The truth is that the Koran (and likewise the other sources of Islamic law, or Shariah) was put together as a political weapon; its main goal is not spiritual enlightenment, but power over people. It is given the outward garb of a religious document, an alleged communication from God; but this is only done for the nefarious purpose of capturing and imprisoning people’s minds and souls, and thence their bodies. Its psychological effect on the people who are taken in by it is devastating; they are not spiritually liberated, but profoundly spiritually oppressed by it, with no apparent way out ever. This is evident in the rudeness of their speech and behavior in everyday life.

The few syllogisms and a fortiori arguments that have been found in the Koran do not attest to its rationality; its overall effect on people’s minds is what counts, and its effect has been and is very negative. This is starkly manifest in the backwardness of Muslim countries and the people in them, in multitudes of ways. Whatever signs of progress may be seen in them are due to Western influence, training and technology (for which they show no gratitude). Their wealth today is mainly due to their petroleum resources, and the extraction of these is only made possible thanks to Western knowhow. They have little to boast about in any field of endeavor.

Today, Islam is known to the world mainly because of one thing: the rabid terrorism and warmongering that it generates, the murder and mayhem that it spreads far and wide. Even within Muslim countries, Islam produces cruel dictatorships, and sundry horrible individual, family and societal mores. In the international arena, whenever and wherever it is given a chance to do its thing, its record is even worse.

Until the beginning of this century, Islam seemed innocuous to most people in the West. Then, on the infamous day of 11 September 2001, when thousands of innocents were murdered in one go, the whole world discovered the Muslims’ ferocious hatred and potential destructiveness. While Westerners cried for the victims, Muslims cheered and celebrated. This dramatic event was no side-show, not the work of a score of deluded fanatics – it was a direct consequence of anachronistic Koranic teachings, which enjoin “jihad.” This term refers to world conquest and domination by Muslims, through all sorts of violence and through lies (taqqiya).

The goal of Islam, to repeat, is absolute political power, over everyone, 24/7 and forever. It should be stressed that the prime and principal victims of the Islamic ideology are the Muslims themselves. Most Muslims today are descended from non-Muslims forcibly converted to Islam. Islam has forcibly arrested their cognitive and moral development, creating in them sick desires to enslave, rape and rob other peoples, instead of teaching them civilization and peace. The free world will surely eventually defeat today’s Islamic aggressors, as it did in the past; but Islam will not disappear till the Muslims themselves show courage and free themselves from it.

Reason can help them in this sacred struggle for freedom.

 

 



[1]             A young assistant professor in the Dept of Islamic Philosophy and Theology (of the Faculty of Humanities and Literature) at the University of Birjand, in eastern Iran.

[2]             Apparently, judging by the banner shown on the paper, in a French journal called: Europe – Revue littéraire mensuelle (2016: 360-365). I do not know whether the paper was actually published in one of their print editions of that year, or only online. I found it online (in about March 2017, by chance) at http://rrbitz.com/papers/Mahmoud-Zeraatpishe.pdf (though this site seems now defunct); but I do not see it listed in the catalogue of the print editions of Europe. Maybe it was only submitted there, but not published? An article by the same author, apparently on the same subject, can be seen at: http://logicalstudy.ihcs.ac.ir/article_1787_ffbee7ea8960ae13f34135feedda329c.pdf; however, this is in the Persian language.

[3]             Note that Zeraatphishe’s English, throughout his essay, is far from perfect. But I will not draw attention to its imperfections by using ‘(sic)’ repeatedly. So long as we get the gist of what he is trying to say, we can let these pass.

[4]             His own paper, note, is only five A4 pages long. The present review of his paper is five times that long.

[5]             Anyone who does the same research, using the same instruments, will get the exact same result.

[6]             His statement that “it seems that the invalid forms can be executed in superior arguments only” is, however, wrong. However, this error does not have an impact on the rest of his essay.

[7]             Note that the identification of the argument as predicatal in form is mine; I have found no evidence so far that Islamic commentators are at all aware of the differences between predicatal and subjectal arguments. As we shall see further on, they seem to have only noticed the subjectal form.

[8]             The major premise of the argument is clearly: “As much power is required to produce new life as to recover past life.” But it could be “More power is required, etc.”

[9]             This Koran argument from one power of God to another is reminiscent of some in the Jewish Bible: Psalms 78:20, which states that if God is powerful enough to draw water from a rock, then He is powerful enough to feed His people with bread and meat; and Psalms 94:9-10, which states that if God is powerful enough to implant the ear and form the eye, then He is powerful enough to hear and see, and if God is powerful enough to chastise nations, then He is powerful enough to reprove individuals.

[10]            See at: quran.com.

[11]            See at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/pick/.

[12]            Note that Zeraatphishe wrongly identifies this verse as “verse 43 of Zukhruf,” whereas in fact the Sura called Zukhruf is chapter 43 of the Koran, and the verse quoted is number 81. This is mere sloppiness, but significant.

[13]            Makarim Shirazi, N. (b. 1926), in Tafsir Nimuneh, Tehran, Dar al-Kutub al-Islami, 1st Edition. Vol 21, p. 127. The reference is that given by Zeraatphishe. Check out this guy’s profile on Wikipedia: he is a Holocaust-denier! At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naser_Makarem_Shirazi, he is quoted as saying: “The Holocaust is nothing but superstition, but Zionists say that people of the world should be forced to accept this. The truth about the Holocaust is not clear, and when the researchers want to examine whether it is true or the Jews have created it to pose as victims, they jail the researchers.”

[14]            This remark is absent, for instance, in the Sahih International translation. Note that Zeraatphishe does not quote this explanatory remark, but only the main sentence (shown above in italics).

[15]            Please note that I am not arguing for belief in a son of God; I am not a Christian. I am merely pointing out that Zeraatphishe’s reading of the said texts does not constitute a convincing argument against such belief. It is the logic of it that concerns me, here; not the material issue.

[16]            Zeraatphishe does not specify what constitutes believing or not-believing. These are very vague terms. Belief in whom or in what? To what degree? On what basis? How is this in practice objectively identified? He does not say.

[17]            Note in passing that a “Mujahidun” is what we more commonly know as a jihadist. The “striving” (with one’s wealth and one’s life) here referred to is jihad – terrorism, i.e. gratuitous violence against people of different persuasions.

[18]            Zeraatphishe adds: “There are many examples of such comparisons in Quran. The above mentioned verses are only a selection of them. Other verses can be found with a simple search of keywords like ‘Istiwa’ (equality)” and its derivations or phrases like ‘Kaman’ (like who), ‘khayrun minh’ (better than), ‘Ahaqhun Anh’ (more worthy than), or any derivations with the structure form of ‘Af’al’ (which is one of Arabic verbal structures to make a preference) like ‘Ahda’ (more guided or guiding), ‘Akbar’ (bigger) etc.”

[19]            This is presumably a paraphrase by Zeraatphishe, who gives as reference Allameh Tabatabayi in al-Mizan, vol. 1, p. 214. This Shia commentator is mentioned in Wikipedia, as Mohammad Hossein Tabataba’i (Iran, 1903-1981), and the work cited is Tafsir al-Mizan.

[20]            Not having seen the comment Zeraatphishe refers to, I cannot tell what it actually intended.

[21]            That is, the five just seen, plus the three earlier dealt with – namely: 18:48, 41:20, 43:81.

[22]            About this, it is interesting to note that in the Tanakh (1 Samuel 9:2), it is said that Saul was “young and goodly, and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” Here, there is no mention of his having “wisdom,” only beauty; as for his “stature,” it was his physical height.

[23]            Rebuttal of a fortiori argument is, of course, a logical possibility, one long before familiar to Talmudic logic (where it is referred to as pirka or teshuvah); see for example Mishna Pesahim 6.2, but there many more cases. It is also found in the Tanakh, in Ezekiel 33:24-26.

[24]            Also, there is no mention in the retort of Saul having “more” wisdom and stature than all the others (the putative major premise), and no mention of his having “enough” wisdom and stature for the job (the putative conclusion). The expression “chosen him above you” does not suggest either of the premises; it simply means that Saul was chosen to rule over the others.

[26]            And not “this man is not the wealthiest among us”!

[27]            Op. cit. Vol 3, p. 333.

[28]            The idea of “likeness” of Adam to his Creator comes from the Jewish Bible: “And God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:26-27). It is not made clear there what “in God’s likeness or image” means; it is certainly not taken by Jewish commentators to mean that God has a human body; rather, it is taken to mean that human beings have a spark of the divine in them. The idea that Adam was created from earthly “dust” is likewise from the Jewish Bible: “Then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). As regards Jesus, Jews do not ascribe to him any divinity, other than that present in all human beings.

[29]            In the Christian Bible, Adam is presented as “the son of God” (in Luke 3:38), and Jesus as descended from him (Luke 3:23-38). Moreover, Jesus is declared as “the Son of God” (in John 1:49), and as God’s “Son,” who was “sent into the world” by Him (John 3:17), and as having “come down from heaven” (in John 6:38), and as “from the realms above” and “not from this world” (in John 8:23), and as “the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). Jesus seems to claim identity with God, saying “I and the Father are one” (in John 10:30); but also seems to deny being God, saying: “The Father is greater than I am” (in John 14:28). No doubt many more passages can be brought to bear. Anyway, as the Trinitarian doctrine suggests, and in practice, Christians do regard Jesus as an incarnation of God, i.e. as God come down in human form.

[30]            Which I may eventually decide to post online somewhere.

[31]            He did inform me of having prepared two papers in Persian; but he never informed me of having completed this paper in English.

[32]            As already mentioned, I found the paper by chance on the Internet. The .pdf file I downloaded displays the banner “Europe – Revue littéraire mensuelle.” But I found no mention of this author or paper in that journal’s online catalogue, at: https://www.europe-revue.net/tables-annuelles-2/. So, I do not know what to think. All I can say is: if they did publish this paper, their standards must be very low indeed; or maybe they have special ‘dhimmi’ policies with regard to Muslim texts.

[33]            In AFL 11: 4, I use the terms qiyas al-awla (analogy of the superior), qiyas al-adna (analogy of the inferior), and qiyas al-musawi (analogy of equals). Though the first and third look a bit different, they are obviously (in view of their common roots) the same.

[34]            Such a sweeping claim is typical of Islam, which once it more or less assimilates some idea or story it got from others, claims it as its own, and even claims it as original.

[35]            In e-mail correspondence, I asked Zeraatphishe some of the questions raised above, though I had already raised them in AFL. From him, I learned that the plural of the Arabic word qiyas is aqyisi; also, that “al-uwlaviyyah” signifies "priority." When I asked him to suggest a more specific name in Arabic for a fortiori argument, he proposed the word ‘tashkik’, found in Islamic philosophy, where it signifies “a range with weak and strong.” (Another suggestion he made was ‘mantiqi tariqi ulayi’, though he did not explain this phrase, other than say that it is a mixture of Persian and Arabic; I assume this too refers to ‘more and less’.) Zeraatphishe also told me that he had heard that the commentator Makarem has written something in defense of the validity of a fortiori argument, but had not yet found out just where; it is interesting to note that he does not, in his paper, mention or quote Makarem (or anyone else) in this regard.

[36]            I analyze quantitative analogical argument forms in detail, and explain exactly how and why they differ from a fortiori argument forms, in AFL 5:1.

[37]            Unless there is a typographical error in his statement.

[38]            I found an e-mail by Zeraatphishe in which he argues (I am paraphrasing, for brevity’s sake) that logical research into a fortiori argument in the Koran only needs to show the formal validity of the putative argument, not its material truth. He reproaches me for criticizing material aspects of the Koran, thereby treating it inequitably in comparison to other texts. Perhaps this is what he was trying to repeat here, in his paper, but had difficulty expressing himself. While I would agree that the prime object of logical research into a document like the Koran is to find traces of logic in it (this is the formal aspect), I would not agree that the logician has no right to respond to the document’s substantial claims (the material aspect). I also disagree with the said personal accusation, that I unfairly criticize the Koran more than other religious texts. If I do criticize the Koran with particular passion, it is because it particularly deserves criticism, and not out of any ab initio prejudice.

[39]            It is significant that in one of his e-mails he complains: “You said to me ‘try to give the verse formally in a fortiori form in a way that convince me or anyone’. Why should I do this?! Do you mean that an argument cannot be a fortiori unless it is convincing to anyone?!” My reply was: “An argument may seem valid to you intuitively, but you cannot prove that it is valid merely by saying that you find it convincing. You must make it convincing to everyone through formal validation.”

[40]            He gives one exception: the argument in Koran 17:23, “(that ye show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, say not ‘Fie’ unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word.” I have analyzed this argument extensively in AFL 11:4, so will not repeat myself here. Suffices to remark that Zeraatphishe does not have anything new to say about it.

[41]            In 43:81, the middle term injected is “belief/knowledge in/about God;” and in 3:59, it is the lack of a father, or the lack of a father and a mother.

[42]            One example was brought home to Zeraatpishe when asked me by e-mail whether there is any parallel in Jewish sources to the story given in Koran 2:30-33. I gave him a link to an online copy of the Midrash Genesis Rabbah containing a similar account: He asked me how he could be sure the Koran story did not precede that of the Midrash; I explained to him that the latter is dated by historians as being about four centuries before the former.

[43]            As for his claim that “most of Quranic a fortiori arguments are a crescendo” – this is not correct. As we have seen, of the eleven confirmed a fortiori argument in the Koran, five (less than half) are a crescendo, and the rest are pure.

[44]            To give one example, in 19:28 it confuses Miriam (Aaron’s sister) with Mary (Jesus’ mother)! For more examples, see AFL 11:2.

2021-03-05T13:15:18+02:00