"Abdul Abu Saffiyah" vs. Jay Smith (Birmingham, February 1998)
- Seeking unfair Advantage by Hiding his Identity -
For two years (March 1998 - March 2000) the below collected material has only been an appendix to the overview page of the rebuttal section to Shabir Ally's published material. We did not want to make this a big issue, as we did not expect repetition and the main issues should be the discussion of content and not the behavior of persons. However, after the same deceptive approach was applied again in March 2000 against Mark Pickering, this documentation deserves a own web page. Shabir Ally is invited to respond to the documentation of these incidents and we promise to publish his response here, or will link to it on this page if he prefers to place it on his own web site.
A recent debate with Jay Smith has given some insight into his personality or those of the debate organizers (but Shabir Ally certainly went along with it). Below is some info for a profile on him.
February 26th, 1998.
Some background on yesterday's debate between Shabir Ally and Jay Smith.
Some of you have asked how the debate went yesterday. It was not what we expected. I went up to Birmingham with a team of 20 mostly students and friends who help in the work at Speaker's Corner. We arrived to find that the Muslim speaker was none other than the apologist from Toronto, Canada, Shabir Ally, whom the Muslims had flown in a few nights before. The Birmingham Islamic Society had purposely mislead us naming him Abdul Abu Saffiyah, which in Arabic means Abdul (or slave) of the father of Saffiyah (a girl's name). Turns out Shabir has a daughter named Saffiyah, thus they were technically correct; and their ploy was successful, as he knew all my material in advance while I knew none of his (a warning for those of you who plan to take on Muslims in debate in the future). The auditorium was packed, with over 220 Muslims and an amazing 70 Christians (that must be a new record as here in England Christians are retiscent to participate in debates with Muslims, leaving the responsibility to less adept imports like myself).
You can imagine with Shabir Ally as my opponent the debate was intense and technical. I began with a 45 minute presentation comparing the Bible and the Qur'an using Manuscript, Documentary and Archaeolgical analysis, followed by Shabir's 45 minute presentation which focused on the scientific exegesis (zeroing in on Qur'anic embryology), an overview of the prophecies of Muhammad in the Bible, followed by attacks against our scripture (that it was primarily written by corruptable men), its 'many contradictions', and concluding with a critical analysis of the Islamic 'revisionist' school. These were not too difficult to rebut during my 15 minute rebuttal. His rebuttal however was spent rebutting my rebuttals, and the rest of the question and answer period he again spent attacking my further rebuttals, and so on ad nauseum. It became obvious to myself and all the other Christians present that he was not interested in dealing with any of the historical material, nor the challenges from the audience there, but was intent on simply 'splitting hairs' concerning numerical discrepancies found in the Old Testament, or 'typos' which he found in my papers. As with the debate last year in Manchester, much of the material we were sparring with simply went over the heads of the majority of the Muslims present.
That's not to say the debate was not a success. Certainly I would have liked to have known my opponent before hand so I could have been better prepared. However, I will be debating Shabir Ally once more on May 9th at the university of Leicester, so this debate has been invaluable, as I now know his material, and will be able to keep him to the salient points. ...
After Jay Smith had given the permission that I may publicize this report on the debate, he added one more paragraph for information:
It might be good for people to know the integrity of the man if we share what he has done in the past. Some of my friends want me to bring this point up in our next debate. I am of two minds, but feel free to mention it in your profile. I will say in his defense, that he does normally act as a gentleman during the debates, not going for the 'low-blow' though he does persist on 'splitting hairs' and is angered when the same is done to him. All in all he is one of the more respectable debaters I have come across in Islam; I wonder why he pulled a fast one on us this time, and what he next has up his sleeve.
A fan of Shabir Ally responded about 18 months after the debate and publication of the above report:
For weeks and months following the debate, Smith attempted to divert attention from his humiliation via Shabbir's alleged deception. However I ask you a question was Diana being deceptive when she used the title 'Princess of Wales'. Obviously not!! Although her name was Diana, she had the right to use the title 'Princess of Wales'. Furthermore only an ignorant person not, aware of all the facts would challenge Diana on using her title. The situation with Shabbir follows similarly. I rest my case. (Source: This debate reflection on a page also offering the debate audio files)
However, "Princess of Wales" is an official title, and well known by most people. Everyone who reads newspapers occasionally would know who is meant. Shabir Ally's daughter is not a celebrity and therefore her name does not identify him to the public. There can be no doubt that the goal was to gain an unfair advantage.
Here we will display Shabir Ally's response - be it an apology or an explanation and justification of his approach. So far, we have not received an answer from Shabir Ally in regard to this issue.
Responses to Shabir Ally
Answering Islam Home Page