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An Unusual Podcast Interview with a Muslim about How I Debate. Check This One Out!

Very rarely do I myself find an interview that I’ve done very interesting — usually because they are often on the same topics, over and over again.  And I almost *never* listen to one afterward.  This one is an exception.  Everyone has her or his preferences, but I really like this one.

It is also one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever done.  This guy contacted me out of the blue about a new podcast he was doing.  He lived in Chicago.  I was going to be in Chicago to give a talk at a conservative evangelical “apologetics” conference; the three other speakers were all hard-core evangelicals who believed the Bible is “inerrant,” and I was speaker number 4.  That in itself was going to be a scream (it was; I had a great time).  But this guy wanted to interview me.  He was going to the conference.  And he was a Muslim.

I’m thinkin’: Really?!?  He asks for an interview a couple of times; I tell him I’m not sure the organizers are going to give me any time to do it: I fly in the night before, there’s a dinner, I do the event all day Saturday, and then rush to the airport to get back home.  He asks if we could do the interview in the car on the way to the airport.  Uh, wow: I’d never tried *that* before.

So we did it.  It too was fun.  But the main thing is that he’s a young, interesting, kind of hip guy who knows a lot about a lot of things, including early Christianity but also pop culture and politics, and so on.  If you have a stereotype of “Muslim-fellow-interested-in-religion,” you need to listen to this interview.

But the other thing is the topic.  I’ve never been interviewed on this before.  He wanted to know about how I go about doing my public debates.  He did not want to get my views about the *topics* I debate, but about why I do it, how I prepare, what it’s like, if I’ve ever realized I just got creamed, and so on.

The podcast is called Sultans and Sneakers.  The fellow who runs it is Mahin Islam, who designs the podcast to be quite different from other Muslim podcasts (which, I must admit, I have never listened to!), which typically involve Muslims talking to themselves (as I suppose most Christian podcasts are as well).  Part of the point of the podcast is to have conversations with people who differ from Muslims not only religiously but on all kinds of subjects — for an audience that is both Muslim and non-Muslim.

If you’re interested in learning more after hearing the interview, you can get on his mailing list at info@sultansandsneakers.com. Or check him out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (Sultans and Sneakers).

The interview took place (in his car, driving to O’Hare!) in November 2019….


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Comments

  1. Avatar
    Taufik Mukti  September 12, 2020

    Islam, by the way, is no better than Christianity, speaking of the textual criticism of Koran. We CAN’T reconstruct what the original verses heard by Muhammad because all the textual variants were destroyed by Caliphate Uthman. So, the only surviving copy is the official version of Uthman.

    Read more in https://answering-islam.org

    • Avatar
      Taufik Mukti  September 12, 2020

      Addendum:

      So ‘Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, “Send us the manuscripts of the Qur’an so that we may compile the Qur’anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you.” Hafsa sent it to ‘Uthman. ‘Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Said bin Al-As and ‘AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. ‘Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, “In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur’an was revealed in their tongue.” They did so, and when they had written many copies, ‘Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. ‘Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. … (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 510)

  2. LaoWho
    LaoWho  September 12, 2020

    I heard this a week ago and what impressed me most was the very beginning, when he gives your bio and mentions your subscription for charity. This guy is on the ball, and I was really surprised you’d drive with a stranger. Kudos (but don’t do it again!). The phone bit was just too cool. Go Chicago! (MBI 1980-82)

    • Bart
      Bart  September 13, 2020

      Well, I had met him and talked with him several times at the conference. Not like back in my hitch-hiking days!

  3. Avatar
    RICHWEN90  September 12, 2020

    In listening to this a remark was made in passing that seemed to possibly capture the essential appeal of a religious belief: community. In practice, being a Christian, for instance, boils down to something very intimate. A church, where you know people and people know you, and you’ve formed friendships and everyone is on the same page and it’s all very reassuring. Life and death issues can be resolved in that familiar context, among people you trust and regard as friends. I’m sure some people need that more than others, especially people who need people, as the song goes. It’s not for nothing that people refer to a “church family”. Interesting podcast!

  4. Avatar
    nichael  September 12, 2020

    That was really nice. Thanks.

    A question, if you don’t mind:
    You spoke about “bad debate opponents”, whom you would never debate (or debate again); e.g. opponents you felt were not respectful or we’re not nice people (I recall you writing once about a debate you participated in where, after you left, the speakers [faculty?] came out and “refuted” everything you said).

    What might be a good example of the flip side, that is, opponents with whom you’ve had an all-out, tooth-and-nail, hammer-and-tongs, didn’t-agree-on-nothin’ debate, but, nonetheless, when it was over you felt things had gone great, and you might even look forward to debating this person again?

  5. Avatar
    JosiahBent  September 12, 2020

    Loved this interview! I’ve always been in awe by your debating skills and wondered how you prepared for them.

  6. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  September 13, 2020

    You, my friend, have had a very interesting and full life.

  7. Avatar
    eminentlaw  September 13, 2020

    Interesting interview! Thank you for posting it, Bart.

    I thought his last question (as to whether you are willing to debate the Trinity), was particularly interesting. I wonder whether his rejection of the Trinity was the primary reason he left Christianity.

  8. Sherwinnipeger
    Sherwinnipeger  September 19, 2020

    I heard both this post and the interview at podcast.

    I’d like to know how much you charge for like say a 3 day speaking arrangements or lessons on “how Jesus became God” at UCC years ago? Or about early christianity or misquoting? Or mix and match of those?

    Also do you pay for your round trip tickets? Or?

    We might need a reliable and non biased interpreter. Most people back home can understand basic english but there are still many in remote areas who may not be able to understand the word “contradictions” how much more the word “apocatastasis” (even myself don’t know that word until recently I heard in 1 of your interviews)?

    Also how will I get them to come, listen and stay to all the lessons? Most of them are close minded fundamentalists

    I’d really like for my people to have the “seeds” you were telling Mahin Islam to be planted in their heads and grow-up. To leave this idea that enslaved all of us for centuries

    To be quite honest I just lost my job due to covid. But I will most definitely make arrangements with you regarding this once I’m back in the work force.

    TY Dr. Ehrman

    • Bart
      Bart  September 20, 2020

      If anyone wants (or you!) to contact me about a possible speaking gig, feel free to have them write me a private email! Sorry about your job. OUCH.

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