Monday, October 27, 2008

Fjordman reviews: Understanding Muhammad

Excellent book review by Fjordman.
Islamic terrorists are Muhammadans following the teachings of Muhammad, once you bother to learn what motivates them it is abundantly clear, and the only way to defeat the ideology is in the same way how it was necessary to defeat the Nazis and then some.

Fjordman reviews Ali Sina's book Understanding Muhammad - Buy it from Amazon.

If I make a shortlist of people who have significantly influenced my views on Islam, the Iranian ex-Muslim writing under the pseudonym Ali Sina has to be one of them. Now based in North America, he has founded the website Faith Freedom International (FFI), http://www.faithfreedom.org/book.htm, to inform non-Muslims about the violent nature of Islam and help Muslims leave Islam. Sina has published the book Understanding Muhammad on the psychological nature of Islam's founder as he appears from Islamic sources. If I make a shortlist of people who have significantly influenced my views on Islam, the Iranian ex-Muslim writing under the pseudonym Ali Sina has to be one of them. Now based in North America, he has founded the website Faith Freedom International (FFI), http://www.faithfreedom.org/book.htm, to inform non-Muslims about the violent nature of Islam and help Muslims leave Islam. Sina has published the book Understanding Muhammad on the psychological nature of Islam's founder as he appears from Islamic sources.

The book Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out from 2003, edited by Ibn Warraq, contains the personal stories of several former Muslims, among them Ali Sina. Ibn Warraq is the author of several books, among them the modern classic Why I Am Not a Muslim and his most recent Defending the West. I will start with a few quotes from Sina's testimony in Leaving Islam and continue with quotes from his own book. I will provide page references to make it easier for others to quote and use the material.

In Leaving Islam, Ali Sina describes how, growing up in Iran, he had illusions of a "real Islam" which was good and tolerant. He advocated the real Islam as he thought it should be and criticized the mullahs and their deviations from the "true" teachings of Islam. Page 138:

"I idealized an Islam conforming to my own humanistic values. Of course, my imaginary Islam was a beautiful religion. It was a religion of equality and of peace. It was a religion that encouraged its followers to go after knowledge and be inquisitive. It was a religion that was in harmony with science and reason. I thought science got its inspiration from this religion. The Islam that I believed in sowed the seeds of modern science, which eventually bore its fruits in the West and made modern discoveries and inventions possible. Islam, I used to believe, was the real cause of the modern civilization. The reason the Muslims were living in such miserable state of ignorance in comparison to the un-Islamic West was all the fault of the self-centered mullahs and the religious leaders who, for their own personal gain and dominance, had misinterpreted the real teachings of Islam. Muslims honestly believe that the great Western civilization has its roots in Islam. They recall great Middle Eastern scientific minds whose contributions to science have been crucial in the birth of Modern science."

He mentions some of these scholars, like the mathematician and astronomer Omar Khayyam, the physician and alchemist Rhazes (al-Razi) and the physician and philosopher Avicenna (Ibn Sina), all of them worthy of respect. I should mention that they were all Persians, not Arabs, and that Rhazes in particular didn't believe a word of Islamic teachings. He was a good scholar, but he wasn't a good Muslim.

Sina tells about his education abroad. His father didn't want him to go to an immoral Western country. Page 139:

"Pakistan, being an Islamic country, was safe. People were religious and therefore moral. This, of course, proved to be untrue. I found people there to be as immoral and corrupt as Iranians. Yes, they were very religious. Yes, they did not eat pork and I saw no one consuming alcohol in public, but I noticed they had dirty minds, they lied, they were hypocrites, and they were cruel to the women and, above all, filled with hated for the Indians. I did not find them better than Iranians in any way. They were religious, but not moral."

However, he was appalled by the general disdain Pakistanis had for non-Muslims:

"I learned about the reasons for the partition (of India) and for the first time about Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He was presented as a very intelligent man, the father of the nation, while Gandhi was spoken of in a derogatory way. Even then I could not but side with Gandhi and condemn Jinnah as an arrogant and ambitious man who was responsible for breaking up a mighty nation and causing millions of deaths. I did not see difference of religion enough reason to break up a country. The very word Pakistan seemed to be an insult to the Indians. They called themselves pak, or 'clean' to distinguish themselves from the Indians, who were najis ('unclean'). The irony is that I never saw a people dirtier than the Pakistanis, both physically and mentally. It was disappointing to see another Islamic nation in such intellectual and moral bankruptcy."

Personally, I have a slightly more critical view of Gandhi, whom I believe was extremely naïve. His non-violent methods might leave an impression on a civilized nation such as Britain but clearly wouldn't have had any impact on a Genghis Khan, nor did they have any value against Muslims. I have noticed that where Westerners have "Islamophobia," Indians have "communalism." That's what it's called when non-Muslims talk about one thousand years of Jihad, a war which continues to this day. Non-Muslim communities have been virtually decimated in Pakistan and are in serious decline in Bangladesh, yet the Muslim population in the Republic of India has actually grown since the partition, not just in actual numbers but as a percentage of the overall population. Whereas the few remaining non-Muslim communities in Pakistan face brutal discrimination, Muslims in India enjoy special rights, including limited use of sharia law. They have more political freedom and a higher average income than Muslims in neighboring countries, but they still attack non-Muslims.

Later, after his experiences in Iran and Pakistan, Ali Sina discovered that Western infidels were not as dirty and immoral as he had been told. Pages 139-140 of Leaving Islam:

"I decided to go to Italy for my university studies. I concluded that there was nothing I could learn in an atmosphere filled with bigotry and stupidity. In Italy people drank wine and ate pork. But I found they were more hospitable, more friendly, and less hypocritical. I noticed people were willing to help without expecting something in return. I met an elderly couple who were very hospitable to me. They called me on Sundays to have dinner with them and not stay home alone. They did not want anything from me, they just wanted to have someone to give their love. I was almost a son to them. Only those who have come to a new country, who do not know anyone and cannot speak even the language, can appreciate how much the help and the hospitality of a local is worth. Their house was sparkling clean and the floor was marble and always shiny. This was quite in contrast with my idea of Westerners. Although my family was very open toward other people, my religion had taught me that the non-Muslims are najis (IX.28) and one should not take them as friends."

In Understanding Muhammad, Sina tries to show how the religion of Islam has been shaped to this day by the psychological of its founder, and why Islam can appropriately by labeled "Mohammedanism." For Muslims, all actions of Muhammad constitute law. Page 166:

"He was entitled to marry or have sex out of marriage with as many women as he wished. He could raid civilians, kill unarmed men, loot their properties and take their women and children as slaves and even rape them. He could assassinate his critics and torture them to make them reveal where they hid their treasures. He could have sex with children. He could lie and deceive his opponents. He could massacre his prisoners of war coldbloodedly. None of that bothers his followers. At first they deny all of the above charges vehemently, accusing you of maligning their prophet, but once the evidence is presented, they suddenly change tactics and defend him, justifying the very evil deeds they had outrageously denied. For Muslims, Muhammad's actions are not measured by what we humans know as right and wrong. Rather he is the standard, the measure of right and wrong. As the result, if a crime was committed by Muhammad, that crime becomes a holy deed and is emulated by his followers unquestioningly. Muslims are capable of committing the most atrocious acts of indecency and savagery with a clear conscience, because it is sunnah (performed by Muhammad)."

Islam became a ruthless and violent creed because of the ruthlessness and violence of its founder and his followers. The concepts of what others would consider good and evil do not exist in Islam. Instead, we have the concepts halal and haraam, permitted and forbidden, categories which very often do not correspond to what non-Muslims would consider to be moral or immoral. For instance, drinking a glass of wine is bad, but killing somebody because they say something critical of Muhammad is good. Sina again, page 167:

"In Islam, the ends always justify the means. For example, killing is wrong, but if it is done to promote Islam, it is good. Suicide is prohibited, but suicide bombing that will cause the death of non-Muslims is a holy act. Stealing from fellow Muslims is prohibited and the thief's hand will be chopped off, but looting non-believers was practiced by Muhammad. So stealing from non-Muslims is considered acceptable by Muslims. Sexual intercourse out of marriage is taboo, but rape of unbelieving women is okay. The goal, which is the establishment of the reign of Allah on Earth, is regarded to be so lofty that everything else becomes secondary. In the history of Islam, we read that people murdered their own fathers or waged war against them. Such actions are praised as the sign of faith and devotion of the believer. Lying in Islam is prohibited, except when it is done to deceive non-Muslims and advance the interests of Islam."

Even Islamic sources reveal the brutality of Muhammad's behavior. The esteemed biographer Ibn Ishaq narrates in Sirat Rasul Allah p. 515 the conquest of Khaibar. Sina explains, page 38:

"He reports that Muhammad, without warning, attacked this fortress town, inhabited by Jews and killed many unarmed people as they were fleeing. Among those captured was Kinana. Ibn Ishaq states: 'Kinana al-Rabi, who had the custody of the treasure of Banu Nadir, was brought to the apostle who asked him about it. He denied that he knew where it was. A Jew came (Tabari says 'was brought') to the apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going to a certain ruin every morning early. When the apostle said to Kinana, 'Do you know that if we find you have it (the treasure) I shall kill you?' He said, 'Yes.' The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest (of the treasure) he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr Al-Awwam, 'Torture him until you extract what he has.' So he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud.'"

As Ali Sina states: "On the same day that Muhammad tortured to death the youthful Kinana, he took his seventeen year old wife Safiya to a tent for sexual intercourse. Two years earlier, the Prophet had beheaded Safiya's father along with all the males (except those who had not yet begun pubescence) of the Jewish tribe Bani Quraiza."

This kind of behavior is unparalleled among the founders of any major religion on Earth. The Buddha or Jesus certainly never did anything comparable to this. Why were Muhammad and his followers so ruthless? Was it in response to persecution? No, says Sina. After thirteen years of preaching, Muhammad still had no more than seventy or eighty followers. Page 17-18:

"Muhammad's call in Mecca was received with indifference. The Meccans, like most non-Muslims of today, were tolerant of all religions. Religious persecution in those lands was unheard of. Polytheistic societies are generally tolerant by nature. They were offended when Muhammad insulted their gods. Despite that, they did not harm him. Muhammad encouraged his followers to leave Mecca. Naturally the Meccans did not like that idea. The Muslim families were upset, as were the masters of slaves who had converted to Islam. Some of the slaves were caught while trying to escape and were beaten. That was not, of course, religious persecution. The Meccans were simply trying to protect what they considered to be their property. For example, when Bilal was caught, his master, Umaiyah, beat him and put him in chains. Abu Bakr paid his price and he was set free. He was being punished for trying to escape, causing a financial loss to his owner and not for his beliefs."

Sina mentions a few other incidents claimed by Muslims to represent "persecution," but in his view, "These stories can hardly be classified as religious persecution. In the Middle East individualism is an alien concept. Women in particular cannot make their own decisions. Even today, Muslim women can be honor-killed if they decide to marry a man of their choice without the consent of their families."

The truth is that Muslims were unsuccessful in attracting many converts in Mecca, yet they were allowed to stay there and preach for more than a decade. They did not attract many followers until after the move to Medina when they started looting caravans, which tells us plenty about the real motivations of Muhammad's followers. Page 19:

"There is no evidence of any persecution against Muhammad and Muslims in Mecca. Nonetheless, Muslims make such claims because Muhammad has made that claim. Muslims will not doubt anything Muhammad has said. Astonishingly, even some non-Muslim historians who are not sympathetic to Islam have fallen into that trap and have echoed this untruth. Muhammad claimed victimhood, when in reality he was the victimizer. Muslims do the same. Everywhere it is Muslims who are killing, oppressing and persecuting, and yet they are the ones who cry loudest claiming to be victims and oppressed."

In the Medina period, Muslims became much more violent and arrogant and launched a series of assassinations to cast terror in the hearts of their opponents. As the Koran says (8,12): "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." Several individuals who had done nothing wrong other than mocking Muhammad's teachings verbally were killed. Understanding Muhammad, page 43-44:

"He wanted to send the message that any opposition or criticism of him could mean death. That is exactly the same modus operandi Muslims employ today, where the threat often only need be implied. They follow the model and example set by their prophet, who they regard as their greatest strategist. They want to create a boundary of fear so they may establish their supremacy through terror. There is no doubt in the mind of the Muslim terrorists that this strategy works. To them, the Qur'anic injunction of 'casting terror in the heart of the unbelievers' seems a sure way to victory. It worked for Muhammad. He bragged, 'I have been made victorious with terror.' It worked in Spain when the terrorists killed two hundred people by blowing up commuter trains on March 11, 2004, and in response, the Spaniards voted a socialist for government who immediately adopted a policy of appeasement vis-à-vis the Muslims. Because of the successful precedents set by Muhammad and his ideological heirs, terrorists conclude that a terror strategy will work everywhere and every time. They will not stop unless the world falls or they are proven wrong by facing a much greater force."

As Sina points out, this strategy of harassing or murdering opponents and critics has been a feature of Islam from its inception. This line of thinking is very much alive today since it's encoded into the personal example of Muhammad, his sunna. Page 196-197:

"If you live in an Islamic country, you could be put to death for criticizing Islam, Muhammad or his companions. If you live in a non-Muslim country, you could be assassinated even if you are not a Muslim. Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh learned that lesson too late when he rolled in his own blood after he was shot and stabbed by a Muslim for assisting the Muslim dissident Ayaan Hirsi Ali in making a movie on women in Islam. In July 1991 Ettore Caprioli, the Italian translator of The Satanic Verses, was grievously injured, and Hitoshi Igarishi – professor of literature and an admirer of Islamic civilization, who had translated the book into Japanese – was assassinated in Tokyo. William Nygaard, the Norwegian translator, was later knifed. The idea is to instill so much terror that no one dares to speak against Islam."

I have to correct an error here. The principle of killing "blasphemers" who criticize Islam is indeed still valid. The Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was killed in 1991, following the death sentence against author Salman Rushdie by the Iranian Islamic leader the Ayatollah Khomeini from 1989. The Italian translator Ettore Capriolo was attacked the same year, but survived. However, William Nygaard was the publisher of the Norwegian edition of The Satanic Verses, not the translator, and he wasn't knifed, he was shot several times outside his home in Oslo. Fortunately, he survived and recovered and has continued working in the publishing business after the incident. This is just a minor factual mistake, but it is an unnecessary one which takes only a couple of seconds to check and correct on the Internet.

What's most important to notice about these assassinations or attempted assassinations is that Muslims made up a very small percentage of the population in both Italy and Norway, not to mention in Japan, at the time, but even a tiny Muslim minority can be enough to kill freedom of speech, literally and metaphorically. Muslims cannot tolerate any criticism of their doctrines, a trait they have inherited from their Prophet. Ali Sina again, page 250:

"Megalomania, bullishness, the sense of entitlement and all other narcissistic traits of Muhammad are present in each and every Muslim, to the extent that they emulate their prophet. From king to pauper, from president to janitor, Muslims consider themselves to be superior to the rest of humanity. They are convinced that one day Islam will dominate, mankind will submit to them, and they will be the masters of the world. This feeling of self importance was expressed eloquently by Dr. Mahatir, the outgoing Prime Minister of Malaysia during an OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) summit in 2003. He acknowledged that the early Muslims built their 'civilization' by studying the works of the Greeks and other scholars before Islam and then boastfully added that the 'Europeans had to kneel at the feet of Muslim scholars in order to access their own scholastic heritage.' In his speech he invited the Muslims to amass 'guns and rockets, bombs and warplanes, tanks and warships' to subdue that non-Muslim detractors and again rule over them."

Mr. Mahatir also called for a "final victory" over the Jews, who conspire to keep Muslims divided and humiliated.

If Islam is so bad, why has it survived for so long? One of the reasons is that it provides a religious excuse for conquest and looting. Another is that it can be a useful tool for authoritarian rulers who want to shore up their power. Page 66:

"Islam was an instrument of domination. After Muhammad, others used his cult for the very same purpose. Muslims become like putty in the hands of those leaders who invoke Islam. Mirza Malkam Khan (1831-1908), an Armenian who converted to Islam and together with Jamaleddin Afghani launched the idea of an 'Islamic Renaissance' (An-Nahda), had a slogan of unrivaled cynicism: 'Tell the Muslims something is in the Qur'an, and they will die for you.' On his deathbed, Muhammad urged his followers not to remain idle, and exhorted them to push on and continue their jihad to conquest. Genghis Khan gave a similar command to his sons on his deathbed. He told them he desired to conquer the world, but that since he could no longer do it, they should fulfill his dream. The Mongols, like Muslims, were terrorizors. For the narcissist, all that matters is to win. They have no conscience. For them, lives of other humans are cheap."

According to his architect Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler was fond of saying things such as: "You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?"

Nazism was essentially a new religion of Jihadism, which had much more in common with Islam than with Christianity. The admiration was mutual. As late as in 2005, Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf was among the top bestsellers in Turkey, as it is in a number of Arab and Muslim countries, behind a book about a Turkish national hero detonating a nuclear bomb in Washington D.C. At the same time, Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan has stressed that Islamophobia must be treated as "a crime against humanity."

Another concept Islam and Nazism have in common is the Big Lie. Understanding Muhammad, page 179:

"Adolf Hitler, in his Mein Kampf, (1925) wrote: 'The broad mass of a nation will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.' If anyone should have known the power of the big lie and that the bigger the lie the more believable it sounds, it was Hitler. Another good statement is that of George Orwell, author of Politics and the English Language. He wrote: 'Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.' Why big lies are so convincing? It's because an ordinary person generally does not dare to tell a big lie. He fears that it would not be believed and that he would be derided. And, since everyone has heard or has said a few white lies, most people generally recognize them when they hear one. The big lies are so outlandish that they often startle the listener. Most people are not equipped to process them adequately."

Ali Sina believes that the big lie "offsets the scale of our common sense. This is not unlike loading a scale that is made to weigh kilos with tons. It stops showing the correct weight. The indicator may even stop at zero. Hence, Hitler was right. The big lie is often believed more than a small lie."

Perhaps the simplest explanation for why Islam is so big is that people believe in big lies, and Islam is the biggest lie ever told in human history. Never has a more appalling human being than Muhammad ibn Abdullah had a greater and more lasting influence on so many people.

Although Ali Sina is critical of Islam he is also critical of the West, especially its belief in Multiculturalism and the ideological censorship regime known as Political Correctness, which he has called the "white man's disease." To demonstrate what's wrong with the West, he uses the example of John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban" who converted to Islam, trained with Jihadist groups and fought in Afghanistan against his own country. Page 220:

"John Walker Lindh is one victim of the sickness of Western society called political correctness. Wasn't it Ronald Reagan who called the Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan 'freedom fighters'? John went on to become a freedom fighter. What is wrong with that? Didn't President George W. Bush and Tony Blair repeatedly announce, 'Islam is a religion of peace?' Why jail a follower of the religion of peace who has simply followed the instructions of his religion of peace? The West is guilty – guilty of complicity, of appeasement and of self deception. As required summer reading for first-year students, Prof. Michael Sells of the University of North Carolina compiled a book called Approaching the Qur'an where only the 'nice' teachings of the Qur'an pertaining to the early Meccan verses were handpicked and the violent, bloody verses that call for killing, looting and raping unbelievers, those that churn the stomach of any sane person that were written later in Medina were deliberately left out. This is nothing but playing the game of deception. The same deception is found in the books of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito in their definition of Islam."

Sina believes that a false image of Islam is being portrayed for infidel consumption by Western academics, for various reasons of ideological and financial corruption. The problem is, when young Westerners believe the lies they are fed about Islam, we disapprove of their actions as they embrace Islamic teachings. Sina considers this to be a form of hypocrisy. Page 220 continued:

"These children are not guilty. They are the products of our sick ethos called political correctness. How many newspapers, television or radio stations have the guts to call a spade a spade when it comes to Islam? Which one of our politicians has the mettle to stand in front of a camera and tell the nation that Islam is not a religion of peace? Watch your kids. If anyone dares to tell the truth, he is immediately branded as a racist and a hate-monger, and his head will roll. Meanwhile, Islamic propagandists are given freedom to twist the truth and promote their lies, knowing they will never be challenged on anything they say. CAIR, Council of American-Islamic Relations, (or better said 'Conning Americans with Islamic Ruse') furnishes thousands of libraries across the country with Islamic books, hoping to find more John Walker Lindhs. Mosques are being built in every city and town throughout the country to instill the hatred of America amongst the American kids. The situation is worse in Europe, Australia, Canada and other non-Muslim countries."

Ali Sina certainly isn't politically correct. On page 248 he states that "Islam is not just a false belief but also a mental disorder. It is a disorder that reduces sane people into insane people."

On pages 256-257 he attacks the doctrines of Multiculturalism and the idea that all cultures are equally worth preserving:

"If any culture needs to be preserved, it is the Western, Helleno-Christian culture. It is this culture that is facing extinction. It is to this culture alone that we owe the Enlightenment, Renaissance, and democracy. These are the foundations of our modern world. It would be a terrible mistake not to preserve this culture. If we do nothing, we face a future where democracy and tolerance will fade and Islam's more primitive instincts will subjugate humanity. All cultures are not made equal. A doctrine that advocates subjugation of women and minorities is not equal to a culture that promotes equality of all people irrespective of their beliefs, gender and race. Islam is not a culture. It is the antithesis of culture. It is barbarity, savagery and incivility. Islamic civilization is an oxymoron, while Islamic terrorism is redundancy. We owe our freedom and modern civilization to Western culture. It is this culture that is now under attack and needs protection. I wrote this book with two goals in my mind: to help Muslims see the truth and leave Islam, and to unmask the real face of Islam and warn of its threat, so the world can stand up and protect itself."

This echoes the ideas of another former Muslim, Ibn Warraq, who believes that berating and blaming the West, which has been fashionable since the 1960s and 1970s, has had the result that many Westerners now seem unwilling or incapable of defending their own civilization against outside attacks. In his book Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism, Warraq highlights the destructive impact of Said's influential book Orientalism from 1978. Said was influenced by Foucault, Marx and the French intellectual tradition and refused to acknowledge evidence contrary to his claims about "Western bigotry." Page 246:

"In cultures already immune to self-criticism, Said helped Muslims, and particularly Arabs, perfect their already well-developed sense of self-pity. There is a kind of comfort and absolution in being told that none of your problems are of your making, that you do not have to accept any responsibility for the ills besetting your society. It is all the fault of the West, of infidels….Orientalism came at the precise time when anti-Western rhetoric was at its most shrill and was already being taught at Western universities, and when third-worldism was at its most popular. Jean-Paul Sartre preached that all white men were complicit in the exploitation of the third world, and that violence against Westerners was a legitimate means for colonized men to re-acquire their manhood. Said went further: 'It is therefore correct that every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric.' Not only, for Said, is every European a racist, but he must necessarily be so. As I have argued, Western civilization has been more willing to criticize itself than any other major culture."

It is interesting to notice that individuals such as Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina, Wafa Sultan and others who were not born into Western civilization are at the forefront of defending Western freedoms, while many white Marxists willingly collaborate with Muslims and cry "Islamophobia!" whenever somebody points out the violence inherent in Islamic doctrines. We are thus faced with the highly unusual situation – perhaps unique in world history – where a major civilization is attacked by insiders and defended by people who were not born into it.

In Understanding Muhammad, Ali Sina takes the traditional Islamic sources at face value and uses them to reconstruct an image of the person Muhammad as he appears in these sources. There exists a revisionist school of thought which has even questioned whether Muhammad existed at all. Personally, I tend to believe that he was an historical person, some form of Arab national leader, although there is much about the early history of Islam which we do not know and I am willing to consider all possibilities. The advantage of relying on the traditional sources is that according to the texts Muslims themselves use, Muhammad comes off as a highly immoral person. In a way, this strengthens the case of those who believe that Islamic texts were at least inspired by an historical person: If Muhammad ibn Abdullah of Mecca is a later invention, wouldn't those who invented him have made him appear to be more noble? Ironically, it is possible to argue that the very appalling personality that is portrayed in the hadith and Sira literature is an argument in favor of viewing him as an historical person.

I agree 100% with Ali Sina's view that Islam cannot be reformed. Indeed, he partly taught me that. I find his book Understanding Muhammad to be very valuable. However, his idea of spending many pages on detailed discussions of what kind of mental or physical illnesses Muhammad did or did not suffer from was sometimes too technical for my taste. Sina's understanding of the nature of Islam is impeccable, and his writings should be considered required reading for those dealing with Islam in their everyday life. My advice would be: Do buy Sina's book, but read it in combination with one or several other books. A very accessible title on the subject would be The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spencer, but there are also other titles available.

1 comment:

hesslei said...

The term "Western culture" is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies. Western culture is neither homogeneous nor unchanging. As with all other cultures it has evolved and gradually changed over time. All generalities about it have their exceptions at some time and place. The organisation and tactics of the Greek Hoplites differed in many ways from the Roman legions.


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hesslei...........

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