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April 24, 2005

Two Books on Islam

The Sword of the Prophet
Serge Trifkovic – ISBN 1-928653-11-1

Why I am not a Muslim
Ibn Warraq – ISBN 1-59102-011-5

Let me apologize up front for the lack of brevity. The subject defies such. I’ve re-edited this commentary at least six times and can’t justify omitting more. Sorry!!

Both books are well written. Warraq’s presents a comprehensive history of Islam. He begins with the assertion that it is his right to question, deliberate over, criticize, and even blaspheme Islam should he wish. Unlike any other religion on earth, this is forbidden by Islam—recall Salman Rushdie? Indeed, execution is the prescribed penalty for conversion to another religion.

Trifkovic summarizes much of the information detailed in Warraq, after which he devotes the last half to a discussion of the implications and actualities of Muslim “modernity,” it’s impact upon, and implications for, the present world—especially the West.

Neither paints a pretty picture of the religion. Both deal with the development of Islam as a hodgepodge of beliefs and traditions which borrow heavily from pre-Islamic Arabic cultural norms, and from Judaism, Christianity and other religions. There is little true “Islamic” philosophy, and there is nothing systematically theological about it. It is a primitive religion, and the only world religion founded by a warrior; a religion which has not undergone its “reformation” or experienced its cultural “enlightenment,” thus to enter the modern world. Christianity was once pretty primitive. Islam still is.

Much of the West retains a sense of Christianity, if not its practice, and fails to understand the literality of Islam. Few Muslims think about their religion. They don’t read or consider the Koran, they memorize it, chant it, live by it, but never question its content. Few reflect upon the contradictions between its covers.

Islam is not a religion of free will and choice, but one of predestination. Reason plays no part, and truth resides in the Koran. All acts and relationships fall into one of a number of categories: obligatory, recommended, indifferent, reprehensible and forbidden. You live the Koran--or claim to--pray and hope, because you are Allah’s slave and must obey. The ethical system, to the extent that one exists, is based on fear alone, yet the course of your life as determined by your actions matters little. From conception you are Heaven bound . . . or destined to be unduly warm forever. It seems never to register that a God who creates people for the singular reason that Hell needs a population is at the very least irrational, and arguably evil.

One is required to believe that this omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God behaves like a “petulant tyrant, unable to control his recalcitrant subjects. He is angry . . . proud . . . jealous . . . all moral deficiencies surprising in a perfect Being.” And why, Warraq asks, would such an all powerful Being “pick an obscure Arabian merchant in some cultural backwater to be His last messenger on earth?” (As I said, neither pulls his punches.)

The commonly advanced argument is that the problem is not Islam, but radicals who have hijacked the Koran and the religion--the Wahabi’s especially. But Warraq disagrees heartily: “The term ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ is in itself inappropriate,” for there is a vast difference between Christianity and Islam. Most Christians have moved away from the literal interpretation of the bible; . . . thus we can legitimately distinguish between fundamentalist and nonfundamentalist Christians. But Muslims have not moved away from the literal interpretation of the Koran: all Muslims, not just a group we call fundamentalist, believe that the Koran is literally the word of God.

The West refuses to understand that Islam is the problem, and that this is a war between religions and between cultures. As well, it is a war within religion, inasmuch as many of those killed in this jihad are themselves Muslims of a different sect or stripe. It is a very violent religion and culture. In fact, the number of inter-Muslim conflicts in the last century exceeds the total of all conflicts of the West, the Soviet Union, and China, combined.

Whereas Buddhism and Christianity (and Hinduism, Confucianism and Zoroastrianism, I’d add) are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines, and love of contemplation. Islam, like Bolshevism, is practical, social, and unspiritual: a totalitarian religion which controls the religious, social and political life of all. Its ultimate aim is the conquest of the entire world in order to subject it to Sharia--Islamic law.

Both authors offer a litany of Muslim misrepresentations and aggressive actions. Muslims, Trifkovic notes, are “prone to construct an invented reality for themselves.” They subscribe to a much altered understanding of their history, and exhibit an uncompromising animosity to non-believers. Many of their supposed achievements were simply “borrowed” from others, the Arabic numeral system being a prime example. These are not aberrations, but the “rules of behavior.”

Trifkovic quotes from the “Islamic Declaration” (1974) in which the following statement is made:

“The Islamic movement should and must start taking power as soon as it is morally and numerically strong enough not only to overthrow the existing non-Islamic power structure, but also to build a great Islamic federation spreading from Morocco to Indonesia, from tropical Africa to Central Asia.”

They seem to have achieved much of their stated objective, and now are gunning for the rest of the world. (Recently we have been reminded that 20% of “Frenchmen” are Muslims who do not, and will not assimilate . . . and for anyone vaguely aware of Holland, there is the recent episode involving brutal assassination of Theo Van Gogh. . . .)

One need also consider the current war of annihilation going on in Sudan where the Muslims are exterminating the Christians, which follows the recent conflict in Bosnia, wherein the facts as we understand them are not quite the facts as they are (which facts Trifkovic explains in detail.)

The Ayatollahs of Iran are manifestly unfriendly, and our ally, Pakistan, is extremely intolerant of non-Muslims, and our “best friend” in the Arab world,Saudi Arabia,is the most intolerant of all Muslim nations.

And then we arrive in Turkey, the most “modern” of all Muslim nations. After the fall of the Ottoman Turks, Mustafa Kemal’s Republic was established as the first democratically inclined, tolerant nation . . . right? Well, maybe not. Trefkovic points out that Turkey is presuming to be accepted as a full fledged member of the world community despite--amongst other things--the continuing conflict over Cyprus where their portion of the island is fully “ethnically cleansed.” And the Christian population of Turkey itself has been almost completely driven out.

Notwithstanding its alleged “pro-Western” stance there was the recent refusal to permit the U.S. from launching upon Iraq from Turkish soil as but one example of its refusal oppose a Muslim tyrant. Most important however, Turkish official policy is the “explicit rejection of the contemporary Western way of life, values and ideology.” That they continue the “persecution of not only fellow Muslims, such as Kurds and Alawites, but of Greeks, Cypriots, Assyrians and Armenians as well—gives us a small insight into what the Eastern Christians must have endured.”

The Turks deny it, but an important professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem notes: “This denial has been sustained by deliberate propaganda, lying and cover-ups, forging documents, suppression of archives, and bribing of scholars.” And he goes on . . . and on, about the myriad violations, misrepresentations and outright subterfuge of our supposed Muslim allies. There are detailed discussions of the Bosnian conflict, the Palestinian situation, etc., all with sufficient historical perspective to assist in a better understanding of them.

In summary, one needs to ask just how those of the Muslim persuasion support an organization such as Al Qa’ida, or “believe that [their] victory would bring freedom and unity to the Islamic world when, philosophically, they consign women and non-Muslims to all manner of misery, and put a straitjacket on free inquiry, freedom of conscience and the human soul?” (a slightly edited quote from Robert Spencer.) Rather like the Nazis returning “dignity” to the German people, I’d say.

Both books are good reads, but the better, and more elaborative of the two is Trifkovic’s. If, however, you wish to truly understand Islam, Warraq’s book will enlighten you . . . and frighten you as well.

Posted by respeto at April 24, 2005 12:56 PM