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Does Islam Have a Peaceful Face? 


Ali Sina

For a Review of Armstrong's "Islam: A Short History" click here

 

The following article was sent to Times Magazine but was not published. 

This is in response to Ms. Karen Armstrong's essay of October 1, 2001 Vol. 158 No. 15  published in  Time Magazine.  http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101011001-175987,00.html (Faith 

In that essay Ms. Karen Armstrong started by saying "Islam is the fastest-growing religion". The truth however has a different hue. Islam is not the fastest growing religion. The number of people that leave Islam is far more than those converting to it. Those who leave Islam are mostly educated intellectuals born in Islamic families, while those who accept Islam are generally the youngsters and the less educated class of the society who let their emotions take over their rational thinking. It is enough to consider the Iranians who live in Diaspora. Over 50% of them no more call themselves Muslims and are indeed quite adverse to it. If the present regime of Iran is toppled there is no doubt that the same percentage of Iranians will leave Islam officially. 

Nevertheless, the number of Muslims is indeed on the rise and that has to do with their unproportionate rate of procreation. Muslims are generally less educated than the rest of humanity and typically less educated people have more children. This is why the number of Muslims is growing faster than people of other religions.

Ms. Armstrong said something that is true. She said: "If the evil carnage we witnessed on Sept. 11 were typical of the faith, and Islam truly inspired and justified such violence, its growth and the increasing presence of Muslims in both Europe and the U.S. would be a terrifying prospect". 

The truth is that the evil carnage we witnessed on Sept. 11 were inspired by the teachings of Quran and if Islam is left unchecked to grow through misrepresentation and deceit, and by beguiling the emotionally charged but less intelligent strata of the western society, the prospect is indeed extremely terrifying. Islamic propagandists like Ms. Armstrong have to answer for their biased insemination of lies. Intelligent people will never be interested in Islam, but intelligent people are never a threat to the society. It is the youngsters and the less educated people who usually are attracted towards extremist ideologies like neo-Nazism and Islam and it is them that can be dangerous.  At the end of this message there is a list of the verses of Quran. Please read them and see if they are messages of peace or of hate and violence. You be the judge.  

Now why despite this much violence in the Quran Islam is not being cast aside by most Muslims? The answer to this question is very simple. Islam does not allow criticism. Any word of criticism will be chastised by a fatwa (religious decree) to kill the apostate. So in such atmosphere of repression and terror truth will never come out. One fears even his own brother. There are many intelligent people among Muslims who know the truth but they dare not speak. Also credit should be given to Western $cientists like Maurice Bucaille and Dr. Keith Moore, who received financial rewards from Saudi King and other wealthy Muslims like Bin Laden's family to lie and make the most ridiculous claim that the nonsense in Quran is scientific. Their claim defies logic but apparently money meant more than integrity for them. We wonder what is the motivation of Ms. Armstrong in lying! 

Ms. Armstrong writes: "When the Prophet Muhammad brought the inspired scripture known as the Koran to the Arabs in the early 7th century A.D., a major part of his mission was devoted precisely to bringing an end to the kind of mass slaughter we witnessed in New York City and Washington."

This statement is quite unacceptable from a person who has written a history of Islam. We wonder what are her sources? Does she know that prior to Muhammad's  arrival to Medina there was no religions hostility between the Arabs and the Jews and it was the Prophet of Islam who introduced religious hate in that subcontinent for the first time? Does she know that the Prophet ethnically cleansed Arabia from the Jews by massacring some of them and banishing others and enslaving their wives and children? Does she know that ALL the wars that the Prophet fought, except one, were instigated by him, were offensive and not defensive?   The only defensive war that he fought was the war of Khandaq (ditch) that was started by the Meccans in response to tens of raids that Muhammad and his men had made at their merchant caravans, killing their men and looting their goods. Does Ms. Armstrong know that the Prophet of Islam had the habit of assassinating his opponents in the middle of the night? Two of his victims were a 120 year old man named Abu Afak and Asma Bint Marwan a mother of 5 small children. These two were guilty of composing satirical poetry ridiculing the messenger of Allah. 

Ms. Armstrong has been very unfair in her statement to say that the major part of Muhammad's mission was devoted to bringing an end to the kind of mass slaughter we witnessed in NYC.  On the contrary we believe that senseless carnage was inspired directly by Quran and verses such as this:

"Where ye are, death will find you, even if ye are in Towers, built up strong and tall" (Q.4:78)

And by the hundreds of verses that call for the killing the unbelievers, some of which we have included in the annexure below.

Ms. Armstrong is right in saying that the "Pre-Islamic Arabia was caught up in a vicious cycle of warfare, in which tribe fought tribe in a pattern of vendetta and counter vendetta".  But Muhammad did not end this cycle of warfare. He capitalized on that aggressive spirit, united the feuding factions for a bigger kill to invade Byzantine, Iran, Yemen, Egypt, Palestine, Spain, India and many other countries, massacring millions of innocent people, looting their properties, taking their wives and children as slaves and selling them in the markets of Mecca and Medina. No doubt Muhammad was a bonus for the Arab Imperialism but at what cost to the rest of humanity? We still pay for that. 7000 innocent people in NYC and Washington  paid that price on Sep 11. There is much more to come. No one is safe, not even Ms. Armstrong who lives freely in the West and for some petty and unholy reason known to herself, has decided to become the apologist of Islam.  We wonder would she say the same absurdities that she is saying today if she is poisoned by a biological bomb released by a devout Muslim in the search of Allah's pleasure and unlimited sex in Paradise?     

Ms. Armstrong wrote: "Muhammad himself survived several assassination attempts, and the early Muslim community narrowly escaped extermination by the powerful city of Mecca".

This is utterly a lie. There has never been any assassination attempt against Muhammad. The Meccans did never persecute the Muslims. It was Muhammad who was exhorting his followers to leave Mecca and go to other places. He even threatened them that if they do not emigrate they will be punished in hell.(Q.4: 97)  Meccans never persecuted the Muslims. They never expelled them from their town. In fact the relatives of the new converts tried their best to prevent their loved ones from leaving. Muhammad played the old trick of "divide and rule" among the Meccans.    

Muhammad himself was never in danger, though he constantly used to taunt the religion of the Arabs. He escaped on his own volition leaving his own family behind having the assurance that they would be safe. They were safe and rejoined him two months later. Then he made his Allah reveal the following verse.

"And call to mind when the unbelievers plotted against thee, that they might detain thee, or slay thee, or expel thee. Yea, they plotted; but God plotted likewise. And God is the best of plotters." (Q.8: 29)

Here Allah, the Khairul makerin (the best of the deceivers), is simply speculating of what the Meccans might have done to his messenger. It seems that the All Knowing Allah is not sure what was the real intention of the Meccans, which proves the alleged plot against Muhammad's life was nothing but the figment of the mind of a paranoid prophet.    

Ms. Armstrong wrote, " The Prophet had to fight a deadly war in order to survive, but as soon as he felt his people were probably safe, he devoted his attention to building up a peaceful coalition of tribes and achieved victory by an ingenious and inspiring campaign of nonviolence."

It is disturbing to see someone who claims to be a scholar of religions be so misleading in her statements. Was Muhammad attacked by the Jews that he fought against and exterminated? Did the Christians of Hijaz attack the Muslims that he in his death bed ordered to to expel them from Arabia?  Were Muslims attacked by the merchant caravans? Did the Iranians attack Arabia? Did Muslims have to fight in Spain to secure their own survival? Could Ms. Armstrong tell were are those Quranic verses that inspire nonviolence? Ms. Armstrong is in fact twisting the truth. The few verses of nonviolence that are found in Quran date back to the period that Muhammad was in Mecca and still powerless. In that time he had to speak of tolerance.  But soon after he reached power, and the number of his followers increased, he started to make wars, loot and impose his religion on others by force.

Yes he reunited diverse Arab tribes. But this is no feat. Changeez Khan also united feuding Mongol tribes and created a mighty army. All dictators managed to reunite people around themselves by instigating the hate of others in them and by appealing to their greed. The greatness of a man is in uniting people thru the power of love not by promising them women and spoils of war to attack alien nations and promising them celestial virgins and "young boys" if they are killed. 

Armstrong continues: "When he died in 632, he had almost single -handedly brought peace to war-torn Arabia"

Muhammad never brought peace to Arabia. He simply extended the battlefield. Now the Arabs did not have to fight among themselves for the meager belongings of each other. Actually they did fight bitterly over Khalifat and power. But now that they had a state, they could also dream of the wealth of wealthy empires such as Iran and Byzantine and lust after their beautiful white women.   

Ms. Armstrong writes something that is regrettable if not shameful in her apologetic defense of Islam which makes one doubt her sincerity. She writes: "Warfare was a desperate business on the Arabian Peninsula. A chieftain was not expected to spare survivors after a battle, and some of the Koranic injunctions seem to share this spirit. Muslims are ordered by God to "slay [enemies] wherever you find them!" (4: 89)."

What this lady "scholar" forgets is that though killing the prisoners of war was customary among the savage tribes of Arabia, Muhammad claimed to be the messenger of the Merciful God. He called himself the true example to be followed. When Cyrus the Great spared the lives and the rights of his prisoners of war 2500 years ago, how come Muhammad could not do that? King Cyrus wrote the first Declaration of Human Rights that contains the principal points mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights written half a century ago. Yet the book of Quran is noting but violation of human rights.  No wonder both Saddam Hussein and Khomeini massacred thousands of each other's PoWs captured  in the Iran/Iraq war. They both followed the tradition (Sunna) of the Holy Prophet. 

We challenge Ms. Armstrong to debate with us. We can prove that what she wrote about Islam being the religion of peace is false. Though most religions have had violent past and in some instances condone violence, no religion so openly encourages killing the unbelievers, desecrating their beliefs, humiliating them and violating all their human rights as Islam does.  

We invite everyone to read the Quran and see for themselves that this book is the textbook for terrorism. No one is more Muslim than Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, the Hezbullahis, the Hamas, the terrorists of Algeria, East Timor, Philippines and the brainwashed suicide bombers of Palestine. These people do what Quran tells them to do. Those who say Islam is the religion of peace, either lie or have not read the Quran.  

In conclusion, we understand the position of the Western politicians and fully support them in trying to separate Islam from the Islamic terrorists. It is not advisable for them to point the finger at Islam itself. This would inflame the delicate relationship with  the Islamic countries and would certainly cause major split between the Muslims and the West jeopardizing the peace of the world. However such whitewash of the truth by someone who calls herself a scholar is deplorable, dishonest and unfortunate. The media must also stop playing its game of political correctness by rehashing the clich that "Islam is a religion of peace". Do they really believe that by repeating this lie they can make Islam a tolerant religion?  We invite everyone to get a copy of the book "Why I Am Not A Muslim" by Ibn Warraq and find the truth about Islam.  

Ali Sina

 

 

 

The following is a list of some of the verses of Quran and excerpts from Hadith 
that reveal the true nature of Islam

[A word of cautious for those who may find their version of Quran is translated differently from the following: Almost all the translators of Quran have deliberately tried to soften the harsh verses of Quran. Yusufali especially goes out of his way to twist the meaning of the world and hide the harshness of Quran.  For example he translates the verse (38:44) that says "take a green branch and beat your wife" as "take a little green grass and strike therewith". Which defeats the purpose of beating, which is to punish making it sound like foreplay to lovemaking. Or when he translates the verse (4:34) that says "beat your wife" he cannot help it but to add the word (lightly) in parenthesis. Other translator have not used lightly and such word does not exist in the Quran]  

 

(2:191): And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Harm (the sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

 

(2:193): And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allh) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allh (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zlimn (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)

 

(3:118): "O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitnah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.) those outside your religion since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse. Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayt (proofs, evidences, verses) if you understand."

 

(4: 75 - 76): And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allh, and for those weak, illtreated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help.Those who believe, fight in the Cause of Allh, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Tght (Satan, etc.). So fight you against the friends of Shaitn (Satan); Ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaitn (Satan).

 

(4:84): Then fight (O Muhammad SAW) in the Cause of Allh, you are not tasked (held responsible) except for yourself, and incite the believers (to fight along with you), it may be that Allh will restrain the evil might of the disbelievers. And Allh is Stronger in Might and Stronger in punishing.

 

(4:104): And don't be weak in the pursuit of the enemy; if you are suffering (hardships) then surely, they (too) are suffering (hardships) as you are suffering, but you have a hope from Allh (for the reward, i.e. Paradise) that for which they hope not, and Allh is Ever AllKnowing, AllWise.

 

(5:33): The recompense of those who wage war against Allh and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.

 

(5:51): "O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliy' (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Auliy' to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Auliy', then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allh guides not those people who are the Zlimn (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust)."

 

(5:57): "O you who believe! Take not for Auliy' (protectors and helpers) those who take your religion for a mockery and fun from among those who received the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before you, nor from among the disbelievers; and fear Allh if you indeed are true believers."

 

(5:80 81): "You see many of them taking the disbelievers as their Auliy' (protectors and helpers). Evil indeed is that which their ownselves have sent forward before them, for that (reason) Allh's Wrath fell upon them and in torment they will abide. And had they believed in Allh, and in the Prophet (Muhammad SAW) and in what has been revealed to him, never would they have taken them (the disbelievers) as Auliy' (protectors and helpers), but many of them are the Fsiqn (rebellious, disobedient to Allh)."

 

(8:12): Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."

 

(8:13): This because they contended against Allah and His Messenger. If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment.

 

(8:14): Thus (will it be said): "Taste ye then of the (punishment): for those who resist Allah, is the penalty of the Fire."

 

(8:50): If thou couldst see, when the angels take the souls of the Unbelievers (at death), (How) they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): "Taste the penalty of the blazing Fire-

 

(8:65): O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Urge the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast persons amongst you, they will overcome two hundred, and if there be a hundred steadfast persons they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are people who do not understand.

 

(9:23): "O you who believe! Take not for Auliy' (supporters and helpers) your fathers and your brothers if they prefer disbelief to Belief. And whoever of you does so, then he is one of the Zlimn (wrong-doers, etc.)."

 

(9: 38 - 39): O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to march forth in the Cause of Allh (i.e. Jihd) you cling heavily to the earth? Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter.If you march not forth, He will punish you with a painful torment and will replace you by another people, and you cannot harm Him at all, and Allh is Able to do all things.

 

(9:42): Had it been a near gain (booty in front of them) and an easy journey, they would have followed you, but the distance (Tabuk expedition) was long for them, and they would swear by Allh, "If we only could, we would certainly have come forth with you." They destroy their ownselves, and Allh knows that they are liars.

 

(9:45): It is only those who believe not in Allh and the Last Day and whose hearts are in doubt that ask your leave (to be exempted from Jihd). So in their doubts they waver.

 

(9:49): And among them is he who says: "Grant me leave (to be exempted from Jihd) and put me not into trial." Surely, they have fallen into trial. And verily, Hell is surrounding the disbelievers.

 

(9:73): O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them, their abode is Hell, - and worst indeed is that destination.

 

(9:123): O you who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are close to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allh is with those who are the Al-Muttaqn (pious).

 

(21:109): But if they (disbelievers, idolaters, Jews, Christians, polytheists, etc.) turn away (from Islmic Monotheism) say (to them O Muhammad SAW): "I give you a notice (of war as) to be known to us all alike. And I know not whether that which you are promised (i.e. the torment or the Day of Resurrection) is near or far.

 

(25:52): So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost endeavor, with (the Qur'n).

 

(27: 69 70): Say to them (O Muhammad SAW) "Travel in the land and see how has been the end of the criminals (those who denied Allh's Messengers and disobeyed Allh). And grieve you not for them, nor be straitened (in distress) because of what they plot.

 

(32:21): And verily, We will make them taste of the near torment (i.e. the torment in the life of this world, i.e. disasters, calamities, etc.) prior to the supreme torment (in the Hereafter), in order that they may (repent and) return (i.e. accept Islm).

 

(33: 60 61): If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease (evil desire for adultery, etc.), and those who spread false news among the people in AlMadinah, cease not, We shall certainly let you overpower them, then they will not be able to stay in it as your neighbors but a little while. Accursed, wherever found, they shall be seized and killed with a (terrible) slaughter.

 

"I (Muhammad) have been commanded to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no God but Allah, and believe in me (Muhammad) as the Messenger (from the Lord)...and when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law." (Muslim 1: 31)

 

"God has bought from the faithful theirselves and their belongings against the gift of paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill and get killed; that is a promise binding on Allah... (Repentance, 9: 110)

 

"Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden - such men as practice not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book - until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled." (Repentance, 9: 25)

 

"This is the wisdom thy Lord has revealed to thee: Set not up with God another God, or thou will be cast into Hell, reproached and rejected." (The Night Journey: 40)

 

"Paradise lies under the shades of swords." (Albokhari, Vol. 4)

 

The Prophet said, "Before long, you the Arabs will conquer many countries and cities. Qazvin, shall be one of such places. The person who takes part in that battle for forty nights or forty days, will be given a gold pillar in paradise encrusted with jades and rubies. He will enjoy residing in a palace, having seventy thousand gates, and each gate shall be attended by a houri (virgin girl for sex) and his wife." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 169)

 

The Prophet said:

 

"Acting as Allah's soldier for one night in a battlefield is superior to saying prayers at home for 2,000 years." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 166)

 

The Prophet said: "He who travels to participate in a Jehad, the dust he encounters in the process, shall become fragrance for him on the Day of Judgment. (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 167)

 

"The one who receives martyrdom in a sea-battle is equal to two martyrs of a land-battle..." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 168)

 

The Prophet said: "He who reared a horse for the sole intention of using it in a Jehad, then he will be rewarded one virtue for each grain he gave the horse as a feed." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 172)

 

The Prophet said: "If a man participates in a Jehad for only as long as it takes to milk a she-camel, he becomes entitled to paradise." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 173)

 

The Prophet said: "The superior Jehad is the one in which both the crusader and his horse are wounded." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 173)

 

The Prophet said: "A martyr (in Jehad) is dressed in radiant robes of faith: he is married to houries and is allowed by Allah to intercede for seventy men (i.e. he is authorized by God to recommend seventy men for entry into paradise, and his intercession is sure to be granted.) (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 174)

 

The Prophet said:

 

"O people, learn archery and horse riding Beware! archery means power. He who learnt archery, and thereafter, gave it up, he disobeyed me." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 178)

 

The Prophet said: "Whatever one spends to facilitate Jehad, Allah shall give him a reward which will exceed his contribution 700 times." (Tirmzi, Vol.1, p.697)

 

"A man who was eating dates, said to the prophet 'Where shall I be if I am killed in Jehad?' He replied: 'In paradise.' The man threw away the dates and fought until he was killed." (Sahih Muslim: 4678)

 

The Prophet said: "He who murders another (in Jihad), property of the murdered becomes property of the murderer." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 183)

 

The Prophet said: "fighting is (art of deceit)." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 182)

 

"Seeing a Persian bow in the hand of a person, the Prophet commanded him to throw that away, and use the other Arab bow and spear because Allah shall help you to conquer other countries with the Arab bows and spears." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 177)

 

The Prophet said: "O, Children of Ishmael, learn archery because Ishmael was an archer." (Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2, p. 178)

 

"Islam is the only approved religion of Allah (V. 5) and emphasized that no other religion is acceptable to God (III: 75). Thus, all non-Muslims were declared enemies of Allah:

 

"The hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is Allah who beguiles them." (Women: 142)

 

"The unbelievers schemed against Allah, and Allah schemed against them; and Allah is the best schemer." (The Family of Imran: 54)

 

"On unbelievers is the curse of Allah." (The Cow: 161)

 

"Allah is an enemy to unbelievers." (The Cow: 98)

 

"The worst of beasts in Allah's sight are the ungrateful who will not believe." (Spoils of War: 55)

 

"Allah plots against unbelievers." (The Morning Star: 15)

 

The holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) laid down the following rules (as found on p. 188-189 of Ibn-E-Majah, Vol. 2) to conquer the world:

 

When you meet an enemy (infidels) give them three choices:

 

1. Invite them to embrace Islam (which actually means acknowledging the Lordship of Muhammad).

 

2. If they do not accept the proposal, then they must surrender and pay tribute,

 

3. if they reject both alternatives, then fight them mercilessly:

 

The holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said "It is not for any Prophet to have prisoners until he make wide slaughter...Eat what you have taken as booty; it is lawful and good." (The Spoils, 8: 65)


 

Armstrong's "Islam: A Short History"


 A review:

Slippery scholarship, November 14, 2001 

Reviewer: A reader from Bay Area, CA United States 

Potential readers should know, right off the bat, that Ms. Armstrong's many books with Islamic themes are sold on Muslim "Dawah" (missionary) websites, cheek-by-jowl with various dreary missionary tracts produced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This information should give readers an idea of the level of objectivity with which Ms. Armstrong approaches her subject matter. 

Everywhere you look in this immensely silly tome you find Ms. Armstrong bending over backwards to present Islam, Muhammed and Islamic history in the most favorable light possible. Various measures are used to achieve this effect: selective ommission of pertinent but unflattering facts is a favorite tactic. But Ms. Armstrong really shines when she almost comically editorializes about subjects that may cause readers -- especially Western readers to view Islam in an unfavorable light. 

For instance, Armstrong correctly notes that Muhammed financed much of his movement by attacking and looting merchant caravans from the Meccans. However, she hastens to tell us, this is nothing to be concerned about, because raids on merchant caravans were very common in Arabia at the time. Okay, but Armstrong doesn't explain why a "Messenger of God" displays the same moral characteristics as "everybody else". Aren't Prophets supposed to be better than the rest of us? She also assures us that Muhammed's caravan raiders never killed anyone during their numerous acts of piracy. Right the caravans just handed over their loot dozens of times without any resistance at all. Amazing how tolerant they were. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the book, Armstrong justifies the early Muslims' often hair-raisingly violent actions by citing their nasty oppression at the hands of these self-same Meccans -- rather odd behavior for a group of people who happily handed over their riches without unsheathing a single sword, don't you think? 

Armstrong uses the pathetic "everybody was doing it" excuse yet again, when describing the massacre of the 700-900 tribe members of the Banu Qurayza at the behest of Muhammed. We are told that we should condemn this act "without reservation" according to Ms. Armstrong, but then she immediately assures us that "it was not as serious a crime as it would be today." Where exactly does the "without reservation" come into play here? (Never mind the fact, which Armstrong conveniently leaves out, that the Banu Qurayza surrendered to Muhammed's forces because they were led to believe that their lives would be spared. Indeed, as Muhammed famously said under other circumstances, "war is deception.") 

I don't recommend buying this book, but if you happen to do so, please also purchase some decent scholarship from the likes of Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern history at Princeton University (Armstrong teaches at an obscure rabbinical college in Britain.) Read the Lewis books first so that you can appreciate when and where Ms. Armstrong's slippery scholarship goes astray. You can also better  appreciate the unintentionally humorous sections of her books that way, too :)))

 

 

 

 

 

 

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