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Robert Spencer's Islam Unveiled: Are the Islamic terrorists really "radical" Muslims?

Published September 22, 2004 in BOOK REVIEW
By Rodney Parsons | Analysis of Islam Unveiled by Robert Spencer

Click above if you would like to buy Islam Unveiled by Robert Spencer.
One of the more perplexing issues in currency today is whether the brutal abuses and carnage perpetrated by Islamic terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere are really the acts of Islamic radicals who have, as our politicians have said, "hijacked the Islamic religion." And if so, we have noticed a deafening silence from Muslim leaders in the USA and elsewhere in failing to condemn the violence and take appropriate action to control the so-called "radical fundamentalists" who claim to embrace the word of the Koran in support of their savagery. We have tried to understand the actions of the Muslim bombers in Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq and across the world, using the sense of religious tolerance with which we have framed our lives under Judeo-Christian theology and laws and customs so ingrained in the civilized western nations. In this we have been handicapped, as frighteningly pointed out in Robert Spencer's book, "Islam Unveiled".

Mr. Spencer has researched the word of the Koran and its subsequent readings which are the heart of Islam, has traced the manner by which the Koran has been followed by its adherents since Muhammad, and has thereby painted a sobering picture of the struggle which is before us and, indeed, helps to explain the events that have shocked the world during the past two decades. Organizing his book into ten chapters, Spencer attempts to answer relevant questions about Islam, such as whether Islam is a religion of peace, whether it promotes sound moral values, whether it respects human rights, whether it respects women, whether it is compatible with democracy, whether science can flourish under Islam (and why has science been dormant over one hundred years under Islamic rule?), and whether Islam is tolerant of non-Muslims.

While President George Bush proclaimed to the nation that the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center "violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith", and while Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain said that the attacks "had nothing to do with Islam", both of these leaders may have been terribly wrong in those pronouncements. Spencer points out that the Koran (also spelled Qur'an), the highest authority in Islam, is "believed by Muslims to have been dictated by Allah and delivered to the Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel." Unlike the Bible, acknowledged to have been written by humans and therefore considered to be allegorical and subject to interpretation, the Koran is believed to be the actual word of Allah, and therefore not to be taken allegorically nor interpreted: what Allah says must be done. So when you open the Koran and find statements like this: "Slay the pagans wherever you find them", you begin to understand the Muslim mind-set and the beheadings and other acts of mayhem against non-Muslims (i.e., pagans) and those who are deemed to be helping the pagans. The Islamic texts actually instruct Muslims to remove the heads of the non-believers when they find them. Sound familiar? Why haven't we been told of this before?

Spencer continues his analysis by comparing acts and statements of Muslims with the directions found in the Koran, making one thing perfectly clear: the goal of Islam, according to the Koran, is the absolute domination of the world under Islamic rule. While converts to Islam are welcomed, those who convert or attempt to convert others from Islam to another religion are dealt with harshly: "anyone who renounces Islam deserves to die." And if you need more chilling news, Muslim leaders have stated that "the fundamental cause of Jihad is to terminate Paganism." Spencer concludes that "this would mean that jihad must continue as long as there are unbelievers." Get ready for a long, hard war. And while there have been and are Muslim scholars who have attempted to moderate the Islamic texts and to interpret them in an effort to minimize their reliance on violence, many of these "moderates" have been silenced by fear or death (one Muslim professor who tried to introduce moderation in the application of the Koran was thrown out of the upper-story classroom window by his students!).

The source of terrorism?
The treatment of women is also established by the Koran: recall that when a male Muslim dies while fighting for Islam, he is promised a trip to heaven under the care of a multitude of female virgins? Where do the women go? Spencer observes that no mention is made of their destination; however, the Islamic readings do state that if a woman does not do right by her husband, hell is her place of rest. The Islamic readings are also specific in instructing a husband on how to punish a disobedient wife: so long as he avoids leaving marks on her face, striking the wife is acceptable. Respect for women under Islam is equivalent to respect for breeding livestock, and apparently no more.

It is argued by Spencer that Islam and democracy may not be able to coexist. Muslim scholars find that where democracy allows man to establish the laws, Islam dictates that only Allah can create the laws, and man must follow them. Hence, a theocracy under Islamic rule ("God's laws, not man's, should govern the society") would be imposed. Turkey may be a current exception to this premise: the effort to create and maintain a democratic state, with constitutional protections for non-Muslim citizens, has so far been successful. But religious uprisings "have been a feature of the Turkish secular state since its inception," and the pressure brought by Muslims to eradicate all traces of secularism and other Western "influences" continues, due to an "abiding interest in guarding and maintaining the purity of the House of Islam".

And where is the once heralded culture of the Arab societies? Spencer notes that where the playing of music is banned, and the society is thus kept deliberately joyless, the development of that culture was stunted. He quotes Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini:

"Allah did not create man so that he could have fun….An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun is Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious."

Knowing all of this, one question comes to mind but is unanswered: how is it that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world?

Spencer concludes by predicting that unless some wonderful enlightenment comes upon Islam, "the wars will not end…[and] militant Islam…will clash increasingly with the weary secular powers that it blames for all" of its ills. This is a must read for anyone who wants to obtain a greater understanding of the current Islamic conflicts around the world. Spencer calls it like it is. Our leaders should do so as well.

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Rodney Parsons
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