Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls – Response to the Chick Tract “The Sky Lighter”
“Allah hath promised to Believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah: that is the supreme felicity.”
– The Holy Quran, Surah Tawba, 9:72
This article is a continuation of the series “Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls”. We will now discuss the tract titled “The Sky Lighter.”
“The Sky Lighter” – The Plot
The story begins in a hospital, where a doctor informs an elderly woman (with a suspiciously evil look on her face) that her daughter-in-law has died, but that her baby has survived. With a disturbing grin, the woman declares that the baby is “mine” and that she will “raise him as my own son”. Taking the baby into her arms, she names him “Abdulla” and tells him that he “will be a great warrior”. She informs him that he (emphasis in the original) “will light up the sky” and that she will “celebrate” by passing out candy to the neighbors.
Four years later, another suspiciously evil-looking Muslim character declares that he will instruct the young boy (emphasis in the original) “in the Quran…and what awaits for him in a jihad”, which Chick translates as “holy war”. This unnamed man explains to a group of children (while standing in front of a picture of Yasser Arafat) that the first caliph of Islam, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) once said (emphasis in the original):
“[t]hat even if he had one foot in Paradise, he could not trust Allah to let him in.”
The man then explains that (emphasis in the original) “the only sure way in Islam to achieve Paradise…is to sacrifice your life in jihad.”
Meanwhile, the boy’s grandmother also continues to “educate” him. As part of the lesson, she asks Abdulla to tell her where it says that Muslims (emphasis in the original) “must slay the idolaters (non-Muslims) wherever we find them”. Abdulla answers that the Holy Quran says so in “Sura 9:5”. His grandmother replies that his father would be proud of him. When the boy asks her about his father, she responds that his father “Ahmed” is in prison because “his heavenly robe failed to explode”. He was captured by the “devils” who prevented him “from becoming a martyr”. Abdulla responds by praying that his “bomb will work”, and his grandmother explains that this was the reason for his birth and that “Allah will bless you with special honors”.
In a different lesson, the evil-looking male Muslim preacher tells his “young warriors” that when their bombs explode and kill the “infidels”, they will be rewarded with “a palace of pearls…in which are 70 houses” in which will be “70 virgins” who will be “more beautiful” than they can imagine. He also explains that they will be given “the strength and appetite of 100 men…to enjoy eternity”.
After one of his lessons, Abdulla unexpectedly runs into his young neighbor “Yusuf” who was rumored to have been killed along with his uncle in an “accident”. Yusuf explains that his uncle had indeed been killed but he survived despite being “badly hurt”. Yusuf asks Abdulla if they could go someplace “where we can’t be heard”. He regales Abdulla with the story of the accident involving a truck (apparently it was a car accident). While recovering in the hospital, Yusuf explains that the hospital staff, especially the doctor, told him (emphasis in the original) “some very strange and wonderful things”. Yusuf asks Abdulla whether he wants to kill himself “so you can go to Paradise forever”, to which Abdulla responds in the affirmative, explaining that it was “why he was born”. But Yusuf explains that he:
“…discovered a way into heaven without blowing yourself up!”
Before explaining what this miraculous way into heaven is, Yusuf warns Abdulla that what he is about to tell him “could cost me my life”. He explains that the doctor in the hospital was one of the “People of the Book” and had given him a book, which Abdulla immediately realizes is the Bible. For some reason, Abdulla becomes “terrified” because it’s “forbidden”. But Yusuf urges Abdulla to remain calm and to listen and to trust him. Meanwhile, Abdulla’s grandmother has been searching for him. She is told by yet another menacing-looking Muslim character where she can find him.
Yusuf tells Abdulla that he has “heard about Abraham, Moses and the prophets”, to which Abdulla responds affirmatively. But then Yusuf asks him if he knows (emphasis in the original) “anything about the prophet Jesus”, to which Abdulla curiously answers with an emphatic “[n]o!” Yusuf asks his friend if a “real prophet of God” can “lie”, to which Abdulla answers “[a]bsolutely not!” Yusuf then points out that (emphasis in the original):
“Jesus tells us that [h]e came from heaven to be born a man…and that [h]is Father sent him.”
For some reason, Abdulla interprets this statement exactly as a fundamentalist Christian would. He responds that such a statement (emphasis in the original):
“…makes [Jesus] more than a prophet…that makes [h]im God!”
Yusuf then explains that the Bible quotes Jesus as claiming to be “God” at his trial. When the High Priest asked him if he was “…the Christ, the Son of the Blessed”, Jesus responded by saying (emphasis in the original):
“I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Yusuf then regales the naïve Abdulla with more amazing stories about Jesus (peace be upon him). He quotes the Gospel of John (1:10) which states that Jesus (peace be upon him) made the world. The amazed Abdulla then asks Yusuf why Jesus (peace be upon him) even came into the world, to which Yusuf responds (emphasis in the original):
“[t]o save us…for all of us are lost because of sin.”
Yusuf explains that humanity’s sins cannot be “washed away” by anything other than “God’s own blood”. Thus, “God the Son” allowed himself to be crucified “and die for our unrighteousness, to become sin for us.”
Meanwhile, Abdulla’s grandmother is hot on his trail. Another evil-looking Muslim tells her she saw two boys go into a shed and that “it looked suspicious”.
Yusuf further explains that if people simply “believe that [Jesus] died and rose again”, they would have “eternal life”. He admits that he has “received [Jesus] as my savior” because he is quoted in the Gospel of John (14:6) as saying:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
He warns Abdulla that Satan and the “mullahs” want him “dead”. He then asks why the “old men never blow themselves up…only the kids?” He tells Abdulla that while Jesus (peace be upon him) “came to give you eternal life”, Muhammad (peace be upon him) “offers nothing but death.” He urges Abdulla not to “listen to those people” who want him to kill himself. Finally, he states emphatically that he believes (emphasis in the original):
“…what Jesus said because Muhammad never rose from the dead!”
By this time, Abdulla’s grandmother has tracked the boys down and overhears Yusuf’s passionate pleas to Abdulla. Overcome with anger, she vows to kill Yusuf. She breaks their secret meeting and chases Yusuf away.
Only 20 minutes later, Abdulla undergoes his final lessons for his suicide mission. His grandmother regrets that the “little infidel” Yusuf got away, but is confident that her “warrior will do his job”. Abdulla “caves in to the pressure”, and one month later, launches a suicide bombing. But after his death, he “stands before Jesus” who reminds him that he had “sent Yusuf to you” but that “you chose death”. When Abdulla asks “what about Muhammad”, the faceless “Jesus” says:
“Muhammad lied about [m]e and died in his sins. Now you will join him.”
And thus, poor Abdulla is thrown into hell. The tract ends with the following warning:
“Jesus is the only way to heaven. All who trust Islam, not Christ, will be cast into the lake of fire.”
Analysis of “The Sky Lighter”
After having analyzed several Chick tracts about Islam, it is obvious that Chick never had the intention of providing a fair and honest depiction of Muslims. We have seen time and again how Chick resorted to dishonest caricatures of Muslims, all in an effort to demonize Islam and try to win converts to his religion. “The Sky Lighter” is no different. In the tract, Chick depicts the life of a young suicide bomber, and equates it with Islam. But as with previous Chick tracts that we have examined, we will find that upon examination, “The Sky Lighter” is just another piece of Chick’s propaganda.
First, the tract revolves around sinister Muslims planning to send a young boy to his death on a suicide mission. This is part and parcel of Chick tracts about Muslims. Abdulla’s grandmother, his teacher, and even random Muslim characters all are depicted in the darkest way possible. They are all evil, angry and prone to violence. The reality, of course, is quite different. But unlike most other tracts, “The Sky Lighter” does not quote Quranic verses or the ahadith. Instead, it mostly just paints all Muslims with the same brush, and Chick was probably relying on the fact that most of his readers would already see Muslims in a negative light. Besides this unfair representation of Muslims, which does not require much discussion, there are a few other issues that need to be discussed.
One of the most glaring errors in the tract is the definition of the Arabic word “jihad”. Since 9/11, it has become almost a household word in the western world. But many people still do not understand it. In short, Chick defined “jihad” simply as “holy war”, but that is actually not the correct definition. As “The Encyclopedia of Islam” explains, the “literal” definition of “jihad” is “to strive or struggle (in the path of God)”. Of course, in that sense, “jihad” can also include “religiously sanctioned warfare”, but the word itself does not mean “holy war”. In addition, as John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed observe in their book “Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think”, even when used in a military context:
“…jihad is governed by certain conditions: it cannot be preemptive, it must be declared by a state of religious body, and it must not target civilians.”
Thus, when terrorists like Abdulla’s teacher say that Muslims must launch a “jihad” against unbelievers, they violate basic Islamic principles of jihad.
Next, Chick’s evil Muslim teacher quoted a saying of the first Caliph of Islam Abu Bakr (may Allah be please be with him) in of his lessons. As a way to indoctrinate the young boy into becoming a suicide bomber, the teacher claimed that Abu Bakr once said:
“[t]hat even if he had one foot in Paradise, he could not trust Allah to let him in.”
Chick appealed to the Islamic scholar Khalid Muhammad Khalid’s book “Successors of the Messenger” as his source for this saying. Unfortunately for Chick, this book is actually freely available on the Internet, and any person who is actually interested in truth can check if Chick was providing an honest quote. Upon checking Khalid’s book, we find that Chick flat-out lied. Here is how Khalid’s book actually quotes Abu Bakr:
“By Allah! I would not rest assured and feel safe from Allah’s punishment, even if one of my feet was in Paradise.”
In other words, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was saying that he was afraid of Allah’s punishment for his sins even if he had set one foot in Paradise. As Khalid stated, this was actually due to Abu Bakr’s humbleness:
“[a]lthough he had such a faith…he was afraid that his heart might go astray. […] From this point of view too, he strongly kept himself far from any aspect of vanity and loftiness.”
As another example of his humbleness, Khalid said of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him):
“[o]n the day he had a great wealth in his possession, he asked himself why he should be blessed with such wealth, while the Muslims were suffering from a great poverty: ‘Am I better than them? He answered himself: ‘No doubt, I’m not better than they. Then, let’s live equally in such a bliss.”
Thus, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was a man of great faith and humbleness, and when anyone tried to praise him or remind him of his great “position in Allah’s sight”, he would worry about his sins instead. That was the mark of a man who refused to be proud and vainglorious, even though he was already promised a place in Paradise!
But Chick’s lies did not stop there. The evil Muslim teacher, after having misquoted Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), then told his young students that:
“[t]he only sure way in Islam to achieve Paradise…is to sacrifice your life in jihad.”
This is simply not true. If it were true, then would not Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) have been the first to sacrifice his life in jihad (since according to Chick, he could not “trust” Allah to let him into Paradise)? To be sure, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) selflessly put himself in harm’s way many times when the pagans of Mecca were persecuting Muslims, and he fought alongside the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in all of his battles. But why didn’t he ever go on a suicide mission if that was the “only sure way” to achieve Paradise? It is well known that he actually died of natural causes at the age of 63 and was then succeeded by Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) as Caliph.
The fact is that the Holy Quran and authentic ahadith show that Paradise is assured to all righteous believers, regardless of whether they sacrificed their lives in jihad or not:
“Allah will admit those who believe and work righteous deeds, to Gardens beneath which rivers flow…”
Faith in Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) and doing righteous deeds will assure a person of Paradise. What these “righteous deeds” are is explained in another verse:
“[i]t is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing.”
In fact, deeds other than fighting in the cause of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) can guarantee a place in Paradise, so long as the person is also a Muslim. For example, compassion for one’s children can guarantee Paradise, as demonstrated in an authentic hadith:
“’Aisha reported: A poor woman came to me along with her daughters. I gave her three dates. She gave a date to each of them and then she took up one date and brought that to her mouth in order to eat that, but her daughters expressed desire to eat it. She then divided the date that she intended to eat between them. This (kind) treatment of her impressed me and I mentioned that which she did to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). Thereupon he said: Verily Allah has assured Paradise for her, because of (this act) of her, or He has rescued her from Hell-Fire.”
In some cases, a person’s patience in the face of tragic loss in this life will guarantee him/her a place in Paradise:
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah says, ‘I have nothing to give but Paradise as a reward to my believer slave, who, if I cause his dear friend (or relative) to die, remains patient (and hopes for Allah’s Reward).”
Of course, fighting in Allah’s cause is itself a righteous deed, and one who dies in this state, will receive a great reward as well. In fact, those who fight will receive a greater reward than those who don’t, but this in itself shows that sacrificing one’s life is not the only way to gain Allah’s reward (though it might confer greater rewards):
“[n]ot equal are those believers remaining [at home] – other than the disabled – and the mujahideen, [who strive and fight] in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred the mujahideen through their wealth and their lives over those who remain [behind], by degrees. And to both Allah has promised the best [reward]. But Allah has preferred the mujahideen over those who remain [behind] with a great reward.”
Thus, if a person in incapable of fighting due to a disability, he/she will still receive a reward from Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) for being a Muslim. In addition to disabled people, the blind, elderly, women and children are also exempted from fighting in Allah’s cause. Based on the above verse, the 13th-century commentator Ibn Kathir stated that:
“[t]his Ayah indicates that Jihad is not Fard on each and every individual, but it is Fard Kifayah (which is a collective duty).”
In fact, women were not required to participate in any expeditions, although they did sometimes accompany the Muslim army to attend to the wounded. But according to many ahadith, the best “jihad” for women was to go on the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca):
“Narrated `Aisha (the mother of the faithful believers): I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! We consider Jihad as the best deed.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The best Jihad (for women) is Hajj Mabrur.”
Other ahadith also confirm that the reward for performing the Hajj is nothing less than Paradise. For example, a hadith in Sahih Bukhari states:
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “(The performance of) `Umra is an expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Paradise.””
How then can “sacrificing your life” be the only “sure” way to Paradise? If it were so, women, children, and the disabled men would have no “sure” way in. But as the Holy Quran states, all believers (men and women) are promised Paradise:
“Allah hath promised to Believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah: that is the supreme felicity.”
Thus, sacrificing one’s life in jihad is not the only “sure” way in. Not only that, but “martyrdom” can be achieved in different ways, as shown in the following hadith:
“It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdullah bin Jabir bin ‘Atik, from his father, that his grandfather fell sick and the Prophet (ﷺ) came to visit him. One of his family members said: ‘We hoped that when he died it would be as a martyr in the cause of Allah.’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “In that case the martyrs of my nation would be few. Being killed in the cause of Allah is martyrdom; dying of the plague is martyrdom; when a pregnant woman dies in childbirth that is martyrdom; and dying of drowning, or burning, or of pleurisy, is martyrdom.””
Based on this hadith, we can see that a woman who dies giving birth will be guaranteed Paradise due to her sacrifice, inshaAllah, and so will a person who dies of an illness. Therefore, Chick’s claim that the only way into Paradise (according to Islamic teachings) is by sacrificing one’s life in jihad is patently false.
To make matters worse for Chick, a person who indeed sacrifices his life in jihad is not necessarily guaranteed a place in Paradise, if his intention was not solely for the pleasure of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) but instead for showing off. This is shown in the following hadith, which states that a “martyr” will be brought before Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) for judgement:
“Allah will make him recount His blessings (i. e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) will Allah say: ‘What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for Thee until I died as a martyr. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You fought that you might be called a ‘brave warrior’. And you were called so.’ (Then) orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hell.”
Furthermore, if one dies after committing an act of oppression against a non-Muslim who has been given the status of “Mu’ahid”, he will not go to Paradise:
“Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever killed a Mu’ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelled at a distance of forty years (of traveling).”
This rule applies not just to non-Muslims living in a Muslim country but also non-Muslims living in a country which has a treaty with Muslims. Chick’s simplistic approach to the issue of salvation in Islam was clearly biased and mistaken.
Next, Chick appealed to a common (and erroneous) interpretation of the Quran. Abdulla’s evil Muslim grandmother, the one who raised him to become a suicide bomber, referred to the so-called “Verse of the Sword” (Surah Tawba, 9:5) and told Abdulla that this verse is a command to Muslims to “slay the non-Muslims” wherever they may be found. But in actuality, this verse is not a command to kill any or all non-Muslims, but rather a particular group. When read in context, it is clearly referring to the pagans of Mecca who had violated the Treaty of Hudaybiyah. It is quite evident that it does not refer to all non-Muslims, as shown in verse 13 of the same surah:
“Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? Do ye fear them? Nay, it is Allah Whom ye should more justly fear, if ye believe!”
Clearly, this cannot be referring to all non-Muslims, but specifically those who persecuted Muslims and violated their treaty obligations.
Next, Chick’s evil Muslim teacher, the one who misquoted Abu Bakr when he expressed fear of Allah’s punishment, regaled his young students (including Abdulla) of the pleasures that await them in the afterlife after they have blown themselves up. The teacher promises them palaces in Paradise, and 70 virgins in each palace. Chick’s source for this information, as usual, was the pseudo-scholar and apostate Mohammad Al-Ghazoli’s book “Christ, Muhammad and I”, which we have discussed in other articles already and exposed as a shoddy piece of religious propaganda from an ignoramus masquerading as an expert. But let us further demolish Chick’s favorite source. We will respond to some of Al-Ghazoli’s pathetic rants in chapter 12 of his book. The chapter is entitled “Suicide Bombers and Paradise”. On page 237, right from the get-go, Al-Ghazoli makes a major blunder. He credulously asks the reader:
“…in Palestine-Israel…Christians constitute 12% of the population. Why has no Christian Palestinian committed the act of suicide bombing?”
So, Al-Ghazoli was trying to make the point that only Muslims commit suicide bombings and that since Palestinian Christians, who suffer just as much under Israel’s occupation (ironically, Al-Ghazoli didn’t show much concern about the suffering of Palestinian Christians), have resisted this tactic in their fight for justice. Unfortunately for Al-Ghazoli, whose research skills were obviously severely lacking, there indeed have been Palestinian Christian suicide bombers! As Theodore Sayeed explained in a 2012 article on MondoWeiss (but referring to attacks carried out well before 2007 when Al-Ghazoli’s book was published):
“[t]he PFLP [Popular Front from the Liberation of Palestine] has conducted ten suicide bombings. And that’s just Palestinian Christians, not counting Lebanese or German.”
The PFLP was a secular resistance group and was led by the Palestinian Christian George Habash, who died in 2008. In addition to suicide bombings, the PFLP also:
“…pioneered the hijacking of airplanes as a Middle East terror tactic — one eventually employed by the al-Qaeda hijackers on 9/11 — way back in 1968 when three PFLP armed operatives commandeered an Israeli El Al airliner enroute from Rome to Tel Aviv.”
But it gets worse for Al-Ghazoli and other ignorant Christian fanatics! As it turns out, one of the most well-known groups to have utilized suicide attacks as a tactic of war, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, actually has had “diverse religious backgrounds” among its suicide bombers, including Christians! According to Esposito and Mogahed:
“[i]n attacks in Lebanon in the 1980s, the attackers included only eight Muslim fundamentalists, plus three Christians and 27 communists and socialists.”
In addition, a well-known study of all suicide attacks between 1980 and 2003, conducted by Robert A. Pape of the University of Chicago, has shown that “Muslim” suicide attacks accounted for half of the 315 attacks in that time period. But the one single group responsible for “the largest number of attacks (76 out of 315)” was the Tamil Tiger nationalist movement in Sri Lanka, not Al-Qaida, Hamas or Hezbollah. So Al-Ghazoli clearly had no idea what he was talking about. For someone to be so bold and aggressive in his criticism of Islam, one would think that he would have done more thorough research. But as it now stands, he has been exposed as a liar and shoddy researcher.
But it is understandable why Al-Ghazoli rushed to link suicide bombings exclusively to Muslims. It was the first step in answering his own question:
“[w]hy would a Muslim so cruelly end his young life at his own hands?”
He answers by claiming that the answer is found “in what Islam teaches about their Paradise”. In other words, Al-Ghazoli believes that some Muslims become suicide bombers because they want to go to the Islamic Paradise, which promises sensual delights, as well as “rivers of wine and milk” and other pleasures. But this is nothing but a poorly constructed non-sequitur. The argument that suicide bombers kill themselves because they want to get into Paradise is refuted by the fact that killing oneself, especially when committing an act of oppression, is explicitly forbidden in Islam. As the “Encyclopedia of Islam” states:
“[s]uicide, the willful taking of one’s own life is…often considered to be morally wrong and an offense against God in Islam.”
Similarly, the well-known scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states:
“[t]he Prophet (peace be on him) warned that anyone who commits the crime of suicide will be deprived of the mercy of Allah and will not enter the Garden…”
So, if getting a quick path to Paradise is the impetus for carrying out bombings against non-Muslim civilians, then it is misguided and will ultimately lead a person not to Paradise but to hell. As we have seen, killing a non-Muslim who has been given “protected” status, whether as a citizen of a Muslim state or as a member of a non-Muslim treaty state, is prohibited and the one who does it is threatened with hell. This rule applies in a Muslim state in which there are non-Muslims as well as a non-Muslim state where there are Muslims. As the contemporary scholar Shayk Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi states:
“Muslims who live in non-Muslim lands in any continent…have entered those countries under covenant and contract, manifested in either the visa, documents for residency, or citizenship. Each of these documents…contain an agreement, signature, and consent that he or she is a peaceful resident, not a combatant…”
In addition, even during wartime, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explicitly prohibited the killing of non-combatants. Only combatants can be targeted. So targeting and killing unarmed civilians is a major sin, and thus, a suicide bomber would not go to Paradise, but rather to hell.
Next, let us briefly discuss some of the pro-Christianity claims made by Abdulla’s naïve friend “Yusuf”. The young and inexperienced Yusuf had been converted by a Christian doctor while he was recovering from a car accident. One of the more bizarre allegations that Chick expressed in his illustration of Abdulla and Yusuf’s secret conversation was that Muslims do not know anything about the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). When Yusuf asked whether Abdulla knew anything about Jesus (peace be upon him), Abdulla said “no”. But how could this be when Abdulla obviously read the Quran, which mentions Jesus (peace be upon him) more times than even Muhammad (peace be upon him)? This is an example of the ridiculous plot holes in Chick tracts. If not for the more serious allegations made in these tracts, one would simply laugh them off as the work of a buffoon and ignore them!
Next, Yusuf asked Abdulla if a prophet can lie. Of course, Abdulla said “absolutely not”. Yusuf then pointed out that Jesus said that he “came from heaven to be born a man…and that his Father sent him”. For some reason, Abdulla concludes, like a fundamentalist Christian, that this statement make him “God”! Apparently, Chick needed to make it sound like the statement was a clear admission of divinity, so that even a Muslim, who has never even read the Bible, would reach that conclusion. However, this is clearly faulty logic. How could Jesus have been “God” if he was “sent” by God? If anything, a lay person who hears such a statement for the first time, and is not a Trinitarian, would logically conclude that Jesus was inferior to his “Father”. Thus, he could not be divine, unless of course, one believes in multiple gods who exist in a hierarchy, as was common in pagan mythology. For example, in the Greek pantheon, Zeus was the supreme and most powerful deity, while other deities like his “son” Ares, his “daughter” Athena and “brother” Hades were less powerful.
Next, Yusuf quoted another alleged saying of Jesus, when the latter responded to the High Priest’s questions during his trial. According to Mark 14:62, Jesus admitted to being “the Christ, the son of the Blessed”, which was a claim of divinity, according to Yusuf. But Yusuf was being quite selective, as this quote is according to the gospel of Mark only. When comparing Mark to Matthew and Luke, the answer given by Jesus (peace be upon him) is quite different:
|Mark 14:62||Matthew 26:64||Luke 22:70|
|““I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.””||“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.””||“They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You say that I am.””
Why are there different answers to the same question? This clear contradiction has led scholars to conclude that the saying in Mark is not authentic. As the late Geza Vermes stated:
“[t]he plain affirmative reply in Mark…is the odd man out. It conflicts with the general line of reply ascribed to Jesus, which was ‘You have said so’ or ‘You say that I am’. The phrase implies a negative answer according to rabbinic literature. It should also be observed that in conformity with mainstream tradition some manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel read ‘You say that I am’.”
So when the naïve and misinformed Yusuf asked “can a real prophet of God lie”, the answer would be “no…but those who wrote his biography could!” There is no way to reconcile the two different answers to the High Priest’s question. Either Jesus emphatically said “yes” or he gave a negative response to the question. The latter seems to be the stronger option given Matthew and Luke’s gospels (assuming of course that the story of the trial is even historically reliable, which is unlikely). Thus, this response by Jesus (peace be upon him) at his alleged trial does not mean he was claiming divinity.
As for the statement that Jesus will be “on the right hand of power” and “coming in the clouds of heaven”, Vermes first pointed out that it is highly improbable that the conversation between the High Priest and Jesus even took place. He stated:
“…we must bear in mind the improbability of an interrogation of this sort within the framework of a formal meeting of the Jewish high court. The Sanhedrin was not permitted to meet at night, let alone during a night which was already part of a Sabbath or a festival. […] So a priori the genuineness of the dialogue is doubtful.”
Vermes also observed that Luke omitted “the reference to the Parousia in the clouds”. So what did “Jesus” really say?! We simply cannot know for sure. The poor Yusuf had been deceived by missionary propaganda. When the alleged sayings of “Jesus” are analyzed using historical criticism, many of them are rendered suspect. This is the inconvenient truth about the Bible that most Christians, including the doctor who converted Yusuf, would not be willing to admit.
To make matters worse, if Jesus was threatening the High Priest, as Vermes noted, then his threat was proved to be a false prophecy. Neither the High Priest nor anyone else present at the trial witnessed Jesus “coming in the clouds of heaven”. Indeed, one of the clearest examples of false prophecies in the Bible is Jesus’ alleged promise that the “kingdom of God” would come soon and that his disciples would live to see it.
At this point, Chick’s “born-again” Yusuf described standard Christian dogma about salvation, which we will not discuss here. However, he did make another rather bizarre and logically-flawed statement which deserves a brief comment. Yusuf admitted that he believed what Jesus said (even though what he “said” depends on the source) “…because Muhammad never rose from the dead!” This is truly bizarre, if not childish, reasoning! We must ask a pertinent question: since when is resurrecting from the dead the criterion for believing what someone said? Is this a Biblical criterion? As a matter of fact, it is a baseless argument for a few reasons:
- First, Yusuf assumed the historical reality of Jesus’ alleged “resurrection”, but there is no reason to believe that he did resurrect simply based on the testimonies of contradictory and anonymous documents (i.e. the New Testament).
- If resurrecting from the dead is the criterion for deciding who to believe and who not to believe, then Christians should believe in any of the myriad number of deities found in pagan mythology!
- According to the Bible, the criterion for judging whether a professed prophet is telling the truth or not is simple: if what he says comes true, then he is a true prophet, but if what he says does not come true, then he is false.
- If resurrection is the basis for rejecting Muhammad (peace be upon him), then by default, all of the Biblical prophets can be disqualified as well, since none of them resurrected!
Finally, let us briefly discuss the end of the tract, when poor Abdulla ignored Yusuf’s advice and warnings, and “[caved] in to the pressure” by blowing himself up in a crowd, only to find himself being judged by a faceless and gigantic Jesus. This “Jesus” condemned Abdulla to eternal hellfire by saying the following:
“[d]epart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
This verse is from Matthew 25:41, and was one of Chick’s favorite quotes from the Bible. But when the verse is read in context, it actually cannot apply to true followers of Islam and shows Chick’s deceitful nature. In Matthew 25, Jesus (peace be upon him) was talking about the judgement of the righteous (the “sheep”) and the sinners (the “goats”). But this distinction was not based on which religion people followed, but rather if they fed and clothed the poor, showed hospitality to strangers, and cared for the sick. The “righteous” would be rewarded for being charitable, whereas the sinners would be punished for neglecting their charitable duties. It is for this reason that Jesus (peace be upon him) would say to the latter:
“[d]epart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”
There is clearly no distinction of what is “true” religion and “false” religion. The basis for the judgement is purely good works and helping your fellow man, and applies to all nations (Matthew 25:32). As Vermes stated:
“…man’s behaviour towards his fellow man is employed as the moral yardstick by which good and evil actions are ultimately distinguished. The perspective is universal, with no specific reference to Jews or Gentiles: all the nations stand before the divine tribunal.”
Interestingly, this parable of the “sheep and goats” has no “parallel” in any of the New Testament books. It is not found anywhere else in the New Testament. The only parallel is actually found outside the canonical Bible, in the “Similitudes of Enoch”, which Vermes dated “to the last decades of the first century AD…” As in Matthew 25, in the “Similitudes”, the “son of man” sits on a throne and “[condemns] sinners to destruction”, and it is quite possible that this non-canonical book may have had some “influence” on “the redaction of the Gospel of Matthew”.
As for the judgement being done not by God but by the “son of man”, Vermes argues that this motif was the result of a “twofold maturation” of what was originally a Jewish concept. The first influence was by “the model of Enoch” and then by “the ideology of the early church”. In both cases, the “son of man” is “imitating” God, but is not God Himself.
So, this parable simply cannot apply to Muslims. In contrast to Chick’s absurd warning at the end of the tract, all followers of Islam will not be thrown into the “lake of fire”. Chick was actually misquoting the Biblical Jesus! To make matters worse for the missionaries, a concept similar to the one in the parable of the “sheep and goats” is also found in the teachings of Islam, that of helping your fellow man:
“Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Verily, Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, would say on the Day of Resurrection: O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me. He would say: O my Lord; how could I visit Thee whereas Thou art the Lord of the worlds? Thereupon He would say: Didn’t you know that such and such servant of Mine was sick but you did not visit him and were you not aware of this that if you had visited him, you would have found Me by him? O son of Adam, I asked food from you but you did not feed Me. He would say: My Lord, how could I feed Thee whereas Thou art the Lord of the worlds? He said: Didn’t you know that such and such servant of Mine asked food from you but you did not feed him, and were you not aware that if you had fed him you would have found him by My side? (The Lord would again say: ) O son of Adam, I asked drink from you but you did not provide Me. He would say: My Lord, how could I provide Thee whereas Thou art the Lord of the worlds? Thereupon He would say: Such and such of servant of Mine asked you for a drink but you did not provide him, and had you provided him drink you would have found him near Me.”
Just as Jesus (peace be upon him) said in the parable, the hadith explains that when one visits the sick or feeds the hungry, it is as if he/she is doing it to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He), because He is with the sick and the hungry, even though Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is free of such needs. Given this clear teaching from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as the poor job Chick did of quoting the Bible out of context, we can see that his pathetic threat at the end of the tract falls flat.
We have analyzed Chick’s anti-Islamic tract “The Sky Lighter” in this article. Using another flawed plotline, Chick attempted to malign Muslims as violent people who are enslaved to a violent religion. But in our analysis, we uncovered yet more proof of Chick’s deception and ignorance. His poor research, using ridiculous source like Al-Ghazoli, coupled with deliberate deception show how low he was willing to go to lure unsuspecting and naïve Muslims (like the fictional “Yusuf”) away from the beautiful religion of Islam. Once the façade of Christian self-righteousness is torn away, all that is left is the face of deception. This is what the anti-Islamic missionaries have been about for hundreds of years.
And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
 Translating “jihad” as “holy war” is of course inaccurate, as we will see inshaAllah.
 Chick cites Khalid Muhammad Khalid’s work “Successors of the Messenger” for this quote, but as we will see, this is just another example of Chick’s deliberate deception, as he very clearly misquotes what Khalid’s book actually says.
 As we will see, this statement is also completely false and inaccurate.
 It is curious that a Muslim would say that he knows nothing about the prophet Jesus, since the Holy Quran mentions him many times! This is another example of Chick’s ridiculous caricatures of Muslims as either violent or completely ignorant people. But as we have already seen throughout this series, not many people can match Chick’s own ignorance!
 Of course, the poor misguided Yusuf was only repeating what he heard from the unnamed Christian doctor. But a more mature and knowledgeable person would know that to say that “Jesus tell us…” or that “Jesus said…” are all subjective statements, simply because we cannot determine with much historical certainty what Jesus actually said! The Bible says a lot of things, but unfortunately for Christians, not all of it is verifiable or true. Interested readers can read the numerous articles on the Bible on the blog to see for themselves why the Bible is not a trustworthy book.
 The reality, as we will see, is that such a statement does not imply at all that Jesus was claiming to be “God”. Indeed, even the Bible itself proves that Jesus (peace be upon him) was merely a man and never claimed divine status.
 If that was the condition for believing in someone, then perhaps Yusuf should have converted to one of the ancient pagan cults of dying and rising gods!
 Stephen Cory, “Jihad”, in Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Juan E. Campo (New York: Faces On File, Inc., 2009), p. 397.
See also John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (New York: Gallup Press, 2007), p. 17.
 Cory, op. cit., p. 397.
 Esposito and Mogahed, op. cit., p. 75.
 There are many ahadith which mention the Prophet Muhammad’s promise that Abu Bakr will be in Paradise. One hadith will suffice here:
“Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet (ﷺ) entered a garden and told me to guard its gate. Then a man came and asked permission to enter. The Prophet said, “Permit him and give him the good news that he will enter Paradise.” Behold! It was Abu Bakr” (Sahih Bukhari, 9:91:367).
 Aysha A. Hidayatullah, “Abu Bakr”, in Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Juan E. Campo (New York: Faces On File, Inc., 2009), p. 9.
Also, just as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had set strict rules of conduct during a war, so did Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). As Khalid explains, his instructions to the Muslim armies included the strict prohibition of killing the elderly, women and children, as well as leaving places of worship and monks alone (http://www.islamicbulletin.org/free_downloads/companions/the_successors_of_the_messenger.pdf; see p. 8).
See p. 8 in the link above.
 Surah Al-Hajj, 22:23.
 Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:177.
 Sahih Muslim, 32:6363.
 Sahih Bukhari, 8:76:432.
Similarly, a Muslim who suffers the loss of his/her children,/ and remains patient, will be guaranteed Paradise:
“It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said: “There are no two Muslims, three of whose children die before reaching puberty, but Allah will admit them to Paradise by virtue of His mercy toward them. It will be said to them: ‘Enter Paradise.’ They will say: ‘Not until our parents enter.’ So it will be said: ‘Enter Paradise, you and your parents”‘” (Sunan An-Nasai, 3:21:1877).
 Surah An-Nisa, 4:95 (Saheeh International Translation). This is the correct translation of the verse, as evidenced by the majority of English translations. The translation of Yusuf Ali does not mention those who are “disabled” even though the Arabic word “darari” (which refers to those who are disabled) is used in the verse.
 Jami At-Tirmidhi, 3:19:1575.
 Sahih Al-Bukhari, 2:26:595.
For the meaning of the term “hajj mabrur”, see the following: http://muwasala.org/what-is-meant-by-hajj-mabrur/
 Sahih Bukhari, 3:27:1.
 Surah Tawba, 9:72.
 Sunan Ibn Majah, 4:24:2803.
 Sahih Muslim, 20:4688.
 Sahih Bukhari, 9:83:49.
 As the contemporary scholar Shayk Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi states:
“[i]t is not permissible to a kill a non-Muslim under contractual protection nor a non-Muslim combatant who is given security by a Muslim” (Shaykh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi, Refuting ISIS: A Rebuttal of its Religious and Ideological Foundations (USA: Sacred Knowledge, 2015), p. 34.
 See The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr (New York: HarperOne, 2015), pp. 505-506.
 Mohammad Al-Ghazoli, Christ, Muhammad and I, trans. R. Winston Mazakis (California: Chick Publications, 2007), p. 237.
 Esposito and Mogahed, op. cit., p. 78.
 Heather N. Keaney, “Suicide”, in Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Juan E. Campo (New York: FactsOnFile, 2009), p. 642.
 Al-Ghazoli, op. cit., p. 238.
 Perhaps Al-Ghazoli can explain, using his own pathetic reasoning, why early Christians were so obsessed with being “martyred” that some actually demanded that the Roman authorities execute them for being Christians! Candida Moss, professor of the New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame University, mentions an interesting account involving the Roman governor C. Arrius Antoninus around the year 185 CE. According to Moss:
“…a mob of Christians marched to the home of C. Arrius Antoninus…and demanded to be executed. The governor, no doubt irritated by the interruption, sent the Christians away, telling them that if they wanted to die, they had cliffs to leap off and ropes with which to hang themselves” (Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom (New York: HarperOne, 2013), p. 144).
Using Al-Ghazoli’s childish reasoning, we could ask: why were these Christians so obsessed with dying? Were they in a rush to get to Paradise? What was the motivation to willingly seek torture and death at the hands of disinterested Romans?
 Keaney, op. cit., p. 641.
 Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam (Al-Hilal Wal Haram Fil Islam), tr. Kamal El-Helbawy et al., (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1999), p. 328.
However, Qaradawi had previously generated controversy by issuing a fatwa allowing suicide bombings in Palestine, but has since clarified that this was due to extenuating circumstances. According to a 2015 article in “Al-Araby”:
“[t]he scholar said that although those living under Israeli occupation may still use suicide bombing due to their “special circumstances”, as Palestinians now have the use of rockets to defend themselves from Israel, such operations are now more questionable, marking a departure from his previous comments that condoned such attacks” (https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/politics/2015/7/30/senior-cleric-al-qaradawi-denies-advocating-suicide-bombing-in-egypt).
And as we have already seen, it was not just Palestinian Muslims who conducted suicide bombings, but Palestinian Christians as well. But regardless of any debate whether suicide bombings are allowed in “special circumstances” or not, there is no debate among Islamic scholars that attacking non-combatants is explicitly forbidden.
 As it stands, most experts on the subject of suicide terrorism agree that the impetus for suicide bombings is not religion, but foreign occupation. According to Keaney:
“…Pape has argued that suicide terrorism is primarily a response to foreign occupation, rather than being a phenomenon of Islamism…” (Keaney, op. cit., p. 642).
 Al-Yaqoubi, op. cit., p. 31.
Shaykh Al-Yaqoubi also quotes the Hanafi scholar Al-Haskafi regarding the responsibilities of Muslims in non-Muslim lands (the “land of war”):
“[a]ny Muslim who enters the land of war under the pledge of security cannot kill, loot, or commit fornication with any one of them, as Muslims stand by their contract” (Ibid.).
As for the protection allotted to non-Muslims living in a Muslim state, Shayk Al-Yaqoubi quotes the famous scholar Al-Asqalani:
“[a]nyone who has a contract with the Muslims, whether by jizya (tax), by a truce from a sultan, or by security from a Muslim, is included” (Ibid., p. 33).
 On a side note, Al-Ghazoli made a rant about the descriptions of sexuality in the Islamic Paradise, because he evidently took offense at the “profane/sexual language” used by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)! According to Al-Ghazoli, this language is “embarrassing” (Al-Ghazoli, op. cit., p. 239). But the ignoramus’ personal opinions aside, one has to wonder if he found the “profane” language of the Bible to be equally “embarrassing”. Just a few examples should suffice:
“While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts” (Song of Solomon, 1:12-13).
“Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies” (Song of Solomon, 4:5).
“I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment” (Song of Solomon 8:10).
“There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses” (Ezekiel 23:20).
Those are quite vivid descriptions of sexual organs, but it seems Al-Ghazoli did not find them offensive! This is yet another example of the self-righteous hypocrisy of some Christian apologists.
 Geza Vermes, The Authentic Gospel of Jesus (London: Penguin Books, 2003), p. 26.
 Ibid., p. 193.
 Ibid., p. 254.
 See our article on false prophecies in the New Testament for more: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/prophecies-in-the-holy-scriptures-word-of-god-or-folly-of-man-part-ii/
 The “dying and rising god” motif is very common in pagan myths. There are several examples:
- Attis – a “vegetation god” who was worshipped in Phrygia (modern Turkey) as well as Greece and Rome. His “rebirth” was celebrated every spring.
- Baal – in the Canaanite myth, Baal challenged Mot, the god of death, only to die in the process. He was resurrected only after Mot was killed by Anat, Baal’s consort.
- Osiris – the Egyptian god was killed by Seth but was resurrected by Isis.
- Tammuz – another “vegetation god” who was worshipped in Mesopotamia. According to the myth, Tammuz had to dwell in the underworld for half of the year.
For more on “dying and rising gods”, see Arthur Cotterell and Rachel Storm, The Encyclopedia of World Mythology: A Comprehensive A-Z of the Myths and Legends of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Persia, India, China and the Norse and Celtic Lands (London: Lorenz Books, 2006), pp. 312-313.
In any case, the myth of Jesus’ “resurrection” has no solid foundation. It is just as historically suspect as the resurrection myths of Attis, Baal or any other pagan deity. For more on the myth of Jesus’ resurrection, see our article on the subject: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/raymond-brown-and-the-resurrection-of-jesus/
 See Robert Youngblood, F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, Compact Bible Dictionary (USA: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), p. 498.
By this standard, however, the Biblical Jesus is ironically shown to be a false prophet (astagfirAllah), because he falsely predicted his return within the lifetimes of his disciples!
 Matthew 25:41-43.
 Vermes, op. cit., p. 151.
 Ibid., p. 150.
 Ibid., pp. 150-151.
Of course, this idea is foreign to Islam, as judgement belongs only to God. However, even In Pauline Christianity, the “son of man” will ultimately be “made subject” to God as well:
“Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:27-28).
Not only that, but according to Matthew and Luke, even the disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) will share in the judging:
“Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).
“…so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:30).
However, in the Tanakh, judgement is the right of God alone, as shown by numerous verses. A few examples will suffice:
“Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest?” (Job, 21:22).
“God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day” (Psalm 7:11).
“Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance” (Psalm 82:8).
 Sahih Muslim, 32:6232.