Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
Are you sleeping, Brother John?
While Europe Slept
How Radical Islam
Is Destroying the West From Within
By Bruce Bawer
Doubleday. 247 pp. $23.95
If the ongoing "Battle of Khartoon" (let's give it some historical resonance) proves anything, it's that many otherwise well-educated Westerners remain illiterate about Islam.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the editors of Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper didn't understand when they published their visual bombshells that some strains of Islam (but not all) oppose depiction of Muhammad. Consider that just one gap in knowledge that new books like Bruce Bawer's While Europe Slept help close.
Indeed, thanks to Voltaire, the Enlightenment, and American freedom of expression, spring lists from prestigious publishers abound with scholarly tomes packed with information on Islam. Look, for instance, at Alan Jamieson's Faith and Sword: A Short History of Christian-Muslim Conflict (University of Chicago Press), or Efraim Karsh's Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale)
Such studies follow scores of volumes over the last few years that offer context for the current fury over Muhammad's cartoon portrayal as a source of terror. Read, for instance, Muhammad in Europe (NYU Press, 2001) by Minou Reeves, an Iranian scholar who examines traditional European images of Muhammad as a xenophobic warrior and argues that they misjudge him.
But such books, with their sedulous, unapologetic presentation of fact, also pose a challenge to Islamic insisters that Muhammad never be criticized. Did you know that Syria, Egypt, Palestine, North Africa, Iran and Iraq consisted of Christians, pagans, Jews and Zoroastrians until Arab Islamic warriors subdued them by force (eventually conquering the whole Byzantine and Sassanid Persian empires)? That the citizens of Mecca, now the holiest Muslim city, opposed Muhammad and his new creed until he showed up on their doorstep with an army in 629?
It may also surprise you to learn that three Jewish tribes on the run from Roman persecution - the Nadir, Quraiza and Qainuqa - partly founded Medina (then called Yathrib), the city where Muhammad moved to escape his Meccan enemies.
According to Karsh, Muhammad and his followers systematically eliminated Medina's Jews and seized their property. In 627, Medina's Muslims declared that the Quraiza were collaborators with Muhammad's Meccan enemies. They beheaded 600 to 800 men of the Quraiza, threw their bodies in trenches, and divided their wealth.
Karsh and Jamieson serve up further uncomfortable tidbits. The Christian philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, no draw-from-the-hip cartoonist, thought Islam incapable of the status of a true faith because he deemed it a religion of violence and war. (Aquinas overlooked massacres by Christian crusaders, which should remind us that Christians once arguably exceeded Muslims in violence.) The great English historian Edward Gibbon thought Arabic might have become the language of Oxford and Cambridge if Charles Martel's Frankish army hadn't stopped an expansionist Arab force at Poitiers in 732.
(more at http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/entertainment/books/13896555.htm)