See previous entry for Part 1 of this book review. It includes type of book, publisher information and general over-view of book. This section, Part 2, will complete the review under my personal comments section.
The Truth About Muhammad
By Robert Spencer
Muslim – One who submits.
The Creed of Islam – ‘La ilaha ilallah wa Muhammadur rasul al-Lah’ – There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of God.
For a short book, only about 194 pages long. It sure packed a powerful punch and contained a bounty of important details. The start of the book provides a nice two page chronology of Muhammad’s life. The author gives a list with bullet points that helps the reader see a quick over-view of the basics from birth to pilgrimages, to wars and finally to death. A snap shot of his life if you will. From there, Spencer provides a four page list of important names and places. Again, a nice over-view for the reader to get acquainted with important leaders, followers, battles, tribes, wives, locations and other references that might be hard to follow without this handy reference list. Please bare in mind that in both books by critics and apologists, there are multiple spellings for many of the major cities, places, people and battles encountered in Muhammad’s journey. For purposes of this review, I have chosen to spell things as deciphered by this author alone.
The Truth About Muhammad is easy to read and an excellent resource. It is by no means the only book out there on this topic and is not meant to be a complete guide to understanding Islam or Muhammad, but it is an excellent companion to other readings. I would consider it a primer to the man, the religion and his teachings. It was informative, educational and seriously eye opening.
I believe this book did a wonderful job of NOT making fun of the Prophet or his religion. Rather, it opens the door for lay people across the world to grasp the basic facts of Muhammad’s words, actions and life, even if they themselves are not experts. This book was painfully honest, but extremely respectful as well. The words in the Sunnahs are just that, words. It is the faithful followers who choose to use the words and commands as a catalyst for purposes of violence and anger, and inspiration for a holy war.
Unlike Jewish and Christian manuscripts, scriptures and doctrine that have been allowed to be analyzed, dissected and critiqued over the years – for the good of each religion by the way - the Sunnah has not had such attention. Not because it is not warranted, but because of the backlash to those who dare to question anything in or out of the books of the Qur’an, the Hadith or the Sira. You will find it difficult to find researchers and authors who are willing to pen an honest and critical look at Islam so, you can learn about the issues at hand. You will not find it so hard to find apologists for Islam. There is a plethora of researchers, authors and activist groups who are willing to make excuses or complete denials on behalf of the religion - Armstrong, Haykal, Lings, Rodinson, numerous University Middle Eastern Studies departments, CAIR and more. It’s important to bear in mind no reform can come without complete analysis and input from both sides of an issue. So, the apologists are welcome to their side of things. But, they should be equally open to those willing to critique Islam from the other side.
Islam is serious in all things. There is no free speech. There is no free thought. It is often a lifestyle of restraint, resentment, isolation, anger and limited happiness for the masses. Because of these restrictions, analysis will be hard to find as few are willing to cross this imaginary boundary for fear for their own safety or for those they love as dire consequences often follow any critical commentary in this area.
An amazing thing you will find is that many Islamic scholars as well as lay people will deny any of the negatives seen in the Sunnah – they will deny Muhammad harmed a hair on any persons head let alone frequent beheadings, that he only preached only peace and love never war and death, that he was tolerant of all religions, that he never married his daughter in law, that he didn’t really go to 27 battles as the texts say and more. They will deny these things outright, claim you don’t understand the religion and if you quote verses and suras, they will get mad, inevitably angry and possibly threatening. Anyone who has studied the Sunnah will be astonished by these extreme levels of denial, ignorance and limitless excuses to be found. Illiteracy rates remain shockingly high in parts of the middle east and many people (especially young men and women) never read the Sunnahs in their lifetimes (remember, it’s supposed to be read only in Arabic, the language of Allah). They simply rely on what they have been told over the years and what is preached to them in schools, mosques and homes by Imans, Mullahs and practicing family members. Granted, on the flip side, many Christians have never read the Bible in full either. But, we don’t see world wide movements with conversion or death as an option in Christianity as we do with militant Islam at this time in history.
To understand this mind set goes to the heart of differences between Christianity and Islam. God is the only one to take vengeance per the Bible (Romans 12:19) when it comes to Christianity. But, in Islam, Muhammad says Allah commanded the faithful to do this. Thus, Christians ultimately understand when challenges come to their religious faith it is not for them to bare the sword. They can speak the truth and share the word, but it up to individuals to believe by choice. They have free will. Only God can judge them later for denying the truth. Muslims are not quite so, easy going. They take it upon themselves to be defenders and not wait for Allah to do so. The Qur’an, The Hadith and quotes from The Sira is clear, the only true faith in God’s sight is Islam and most Jews and Christians and non-Muslmis are wrongdoers. Thus, Muslims believe avenging a wrong must be done now. And, they are doing it in ever increasing numbers.
Though some deny it, or simply don’t recognize it, militant Islamic extremists appear to be the most serious issue of our time. They fervently wish to kill Americans, Israelis and even fellow Muslims who are not Muslim enough. Until one becomes familiar with this religion and it’s leader and the words used to inspire – both good and bad – you can’t speak with authority on the issue. Unlike Rosie O’Donnell and other conspiracy and denial minded citizens, this issue is REAL and it is NOT going away because we want another answer and wish for another outcome.
Because of the surge in jihad around the world, long before 9/11 happened, and many more incidents since, I felt compelled to research this issue further and try to understand what in the world is really going on? I didn’t want media – t.v., cable or newspapers to censor the information I got and give me the politically correct bumper sticker style answer a few lines long for such a complicated issue (ie, Death to Israel, Palestinians R Great, America is the Great Satan, Muslims 4 Peace). I certainly didn’t want politicians up for house, senate and presidential seats to be my avenue to reason. Due to my need to understand the issue further, I began reading books like: Because They Hate – Brigitte Gabriel, America Alone – Mark Steyn, The West’s Last Chance – Tony Blankley, Now They Call Me Infidel – Nonie Darwish, and now, The Truth About Muhammad by Robert Spencer, so that I could understand more completely the history of Islam, the practice of the faith and the growing threat of Islamic extremism around the globe. The who, what, when and why’s if you will. These books all did a great job of looking objectively at the world wide crisis at hand. They reviewed what caused the difficulties, what we can do about it and what will happen if we don’t.
Many Americans and others around the world argue we know why they want to harm us. We are told repeatedly by politicians, media outlets and harsh critics of the West that the reason they attack us is we make too much money, have good lives and we live in an opportunist society and they don’t like us because of these reasons. We are told that it’s all about our massive need for huge oil reserves that we get from the Middle East that makes them feel violated and angry. We are advised it is our foreign policy they don’t like. They insist that the world doesn’t approve of America being active around the globe helping to keep peace and democracy alive in regions that wish for those things. We are frequently told that the Jewish statehood enrages the Arab world and that suppression of the Palestinians by Israel and the west is really what triggers Muslim anger. The last argument is that America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq – clear violations of U.N. rules they say. We have gone to war and now occupy innocent countries without reason.
Too many refuse to look further, to probe deeper and find out the bare bones truth. The examples cited above are really just excuses, not the reason why. Boiling below the surface is something darker and much more frightening. Too many claim WE are the answer. We are told, it is OUR fault, not theirs. No further investigation needs to be done. Inspector Clouseau has solved the crime.
One thing is abundantly clear once you do some honest homework and piece together the facts of the case. Islam, as it is followed today by fervent and devoted followers, is an ever growing threat to the non-Muslim world. Just look at the radical nature of young Muslims between the ages of 15-35 not only in the middle east, but all over Europe, Africa, Asia, America and more. Both native born and immigrants. The violence, the destruction and the death threats are not going away because we wish it away. It will not go away if The U.S., Western countries or Israel were to leave the region. The problem is not occupation or military intervention. The problem is not attempts to spread democracy or capitalism. The problem is not the world buying their oil and their leaders not sharing the wealth. The problem is not us.
Islam, as it is practiced by the passionate faithful, is the problem. We are not Muslim enough. We need to be converted to the only true religion, Islam. Once we covert, then Sharia law needs to dominate the world. Only then will a form of stability reign. But…read the Qur’an, The Hadith and The Sira, even then real peace, freedom, love and brotherhood will NOT reign. Sharia law is cruel to women and children, it is devastating to societies, it is not even good for men. It does not support human dignity and rights as we know it in the West.
I, like many, have a hard time supporting the statements made by many diplomats in The U.S., The U.K. and other countries whom have stated over and over again about Islam. That it is a religion of peace, joy and love. We are told by apologists that Muhammad spoke with mercy for humankind and believed in brotherhood. With the research and reading I have done so far, the evidence is weak. Muhammad may have begun his journey with some favorable thoughts and ideas, but by mid stride, his message morphed into something dark, ugly and very dangerous. Apologists always go back to Muhammad’s early period and discuss the time frame where he spoke kinder words, was more accepting and open of other people’s, lifestyles and faiths. True enough. But, they fail to discuss the darker period, the later years of his life as well. It’s too convenient that those who support the good in Islam, also refuse to acknowledge the abundant darkness there too. It’s almost like they are in denial about the dark side. Until they acknowledge and discuss both, their arguments are empty.
As we can see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears, it is not the period of peace that young extremists and jihadists quote and act upon in their current terror campaign. When jihadists bomb a building or market, when they behead someone from the West, when they use innocent Arabs as protection against getting bombed themselves and more, they quote directly from the Qur’an, Hadith and Sura for support and inspiration. Their actions are NOT supported by a foundation of love, peace, respect and tolerance. Mosques and madras around the world are not preaching love thy brother. They are preaching hate and kill thy brother the infidel. We must continue to probe deeper, so we can begin to identify and understand the anger, resentment and dislike being nurtured in the middle east against Israel, America, The West, and other non Islamic countries. Hatred, destruction and death cross all water ways, all air space, all borders and all peoples of non-Muslim status.
This book, The Truth About Muhammad, needs to be considered our newest wake up call. We’ve had about thirty years worth of wake up calls, but it seems too few are paying attention or listening to the message being sent to us. When these extreme groups tell us what they want to do and why, they mean it. As a reminder, here are some previous warning signs we may have missed or simply avoided what they meant…
Late 1970’s The Iranian Hostage under the Ayatollah Khomeini (names like Terry Anderson, Terry Waite & William Higgins should ring a bell)
1985 TWA Flight 847 hijacking, Egypt Air flight 648 hijacking – 60 killed, Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacked by the PLO – one passenger shot dead
1986 TWA flight 840 bombed on approach to Athens airport – 4 Americans shot dead plus an infant, Berlin disco bombing – 3 killed, 230 wounded, Pan Am flight 73 hijacked-22 died when plane is stormed in Pakistan
1988 Pan Am flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland – all die
1989 Suitcase bomb destroys UTA flight UT-772 en route to Paris-171 passengers/crew dead
1993, WTC first bombing-6 dead and more than 1,000 hurt, failed NYC landmark bombing plot
1994 Bombing of Jewish center in Buenos Aires-86 dead and 300 wounded, Alas Chiricanas flight 00901 bombed -21 dead, Israeli embassy attached and Jewish charity car bombed-20 wounded, Air France flight 8969 hijacked
1995, Bombings in France-7 killed and more than 100 wounded, bombings of military compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-7 killed and dozens wounded
1996, Khobar Towers bombing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia- 19 servicemen died and hundreds wounded
1997 Luxor, Egypt massacre-62 killed
1998, U.S. embassy bombings in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya-225 died and over 4,000 wounded
1999 2000 millennium attack plot foiled between US and Canadian border
2000 Numerous attacks against Israel, over 37 attacks - 44 dead and hundreds injured, USS Cole bombing-17 servicemen died, many wounded, Jerusalem restaurant bombing-7 dead and over 120 wounded
2001 Numerous attacks against Israel again - 203 dead and hundreds injured, 9/11 attacks WTC NYC, Pentagon & PA-approximately 3,000 died and thousands injured, Richard Reid attempts shoe bombing attempt to an American Airlines plane & Paris embassy bombing – both plots failed
Since 2001- The Bali Indonesia bombings, The Madrid bombings, The London bombings and others. Many dead, many wounded. Don’t forget the many foiled attacks around the world since as well.
(A comprehensive list can be found via The Islam Review, writer Abdullah al-Araby).
These bombings and murders have been done by many groups – call them al Qaeda, The Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, PLO, Muslim Brotherhood, fringe groups and underground activists in nations like Syria, Saudi Arabia, Africa, Iran and more. They may all wear different uniforms and play on different teams, but they are in the game for the same outcome. A home run for Islam. A touch down for the faith. A puck in the net for Muslims around the world. Score, score, score.
The greatest danger is places like the last few countries noted as their governments pretend they aren’t directly supporting or involved with these fringe movements yet the work is being done secretly with their blessing and cash assistance (and sometimes not so secret like Iran). Since these extremists don’t wear a national uniform, operate in a single location or report to one commander in chief, they are seen as off shoots from real militant armies of a national structure. These groups fly under the radar of traditional warfare practices, so they get to operate in secret with the blessings of the highest of national officials. Many want to grant them Geneva rights protection even though they themselves don’t follow anything required to get those benefits. Bottom line, the group names change, but the ideology and inspiration come from the same original source – the Sunnah, it’s writers and their Prophet Muhammad.
It’s clear that moderate Muslims, which we hear make up the majority of Islamic followers, are not speaking out or acting out against such atrocities just because they are afraid of the ramifications to themselves or their families. To the contrary, the evidence seems to support that many remain silent because they support the actions of those who are radical even if they themselves are not. If you read the Sunnah, believe the faith and follow the Prophet, you can’t help but support the commands and revelations revealed and commanded to the believers. That translates to emulating the Prophet fully. Including extremists, radical jihadists and everyday practicing Muslim men, women & children.
Spencer clarifies this best, “The quest for the historical Muhammad, while fascinating and important, is not what will determine the course the Islamic world will take in coming decades. Any such investigations are extremely unlikely to gain any significant audience in the Islamic world. What is certain to be influential, however, is the figure of Muhammad as he appears in the Qur’an and other accepted Islamic sources – especially the Hadith, the traditions of the Prophet that have largely determined the bases of Islamic practice and piety. This battle is already raging”.
It is not until books like this one are allowed to become more main stream that reform can occur. Christianity has had periods of deviance over the centuries that went too far (Crusades, Inquisition, Pedophile, etc.). In time, Christian groups were able to identify a wrong and right it to become better people. They self-corrected even if it took great trial and tribulation to get there. Just because a wrong is done, people don’t have to feel they can’t admit the bad deed done AND still stay true to a faith and make it better. Erroneous ways can only be corrected by blatant honesty.
I try not to loose hope that Muslims themselves will finally be able to take a critical look at what they believe and follow as their golden rule. The change must begin within. They do not need to keep living in a world of hatred and destruction and ultimately, blaming everyone else for many of their own ills. Islam should be a peaceful and loving society that respects all men, women and children regardless of age, sex, faith, nationality or country. They should support and embrace the humane parts of Islam and speak out against and defy the inhumane and destructive parts. They need to live this, NOT just speak this. Until such a shift occurs, they will be at odds with much of the developed world.
I recommend this book highly to all citizens of The United States and countries in the West. Few Americans know anything at all about Muhammad or what he commanded his followers to do on behalf of Allah. If you read this review and knew little of what I shared, I hope you will be inspired to do further homework on this timley and important topic.
Until we research and understand, we cannot form an opinion.
Until we research and understand, we cannot form a plan.
It’s possible in the end that we recognize a serious change may be impossible among true believers and impassioned followers of Islam. Due to this, we should all be very alert and very concerned. It is wise and prudent that we take any and all measures to protect ourselves until a dramatic shift occurs. If we don’t, who will?
Five stars for this book. ***** It covered it all – informative, interesting and motivating.
Bridget Dupont-Tingley-The Editor
The Local Area Watch