Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Truth about Muhammad

Just finished reading The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spencer.

The author spends the first nine chapters going over Muhammad's life and the development of Islam: the last chapter is dedicated to the legacy of Muhammad and what it means for the west.

I’d thought that the word prophet means someone who foretells the future, but as used in the context of Muhammad it means a spokesmen for God. The whole development of Islam consisted of Muhammad resolving issues, sometimes even compromising and then later reversing himself, by means of “revelations” from Allah. Now, for an atheist like me, a “revelation from Allah” is another way of saying “pulling shit out of your ass to justify your agenda”. And that seems to be how Islam developed.

Now that in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad, if Muhammad is to be viewed as an apostle who merely interpreted the word of God, and hence the Quran should be taken as a historical narrative. But unfortunately, adherents of Islam regard Muhammad as the perfect example of righteousness, to be emulated. And therein lies the problem for the west. I don’t really care how Muslims view themselves and their relationship to their God. However, it’s their relationship to the rest of the world that’s a concern. For example,

  1. apostates should be put to death
  2. “people of the scriptures” (i.e. Jews and Christians) should be allowed to convert to Islam, or be protected by “dhimmah”, i.e. second-class status and subjugation.
  3. other non-believers must covert to Islam.
Now lots has been made of the true meaning of Islam and that the extremists are just that, on the fringes and extremes. But after reading this book, I can’t see how one can be an adherent of Islam and go contrary to the example set by its prophet. Chief among these is the fundamental and complete intolerance of other religions.

I highly recommend this book.

1 comment:

Weetabix said...

I don't know how much the book went into it (extensively, I'd guess), but some of the other aspects of the beginnings of Islam are telling as well. He lived among Jews and Christians, and incorporated many of their teachings and stories (in a confused manner) into the Koran. In the "justifying your agenda" realm, I think he basically formed Islam so he could direct people to kill and plunder with him to avenge his having been kicked out of his home town.

And I think, the Koran specifically directs adherents to kill unbelievers if they don't convert. That doesn't jibe well with the other great world religions.

I think the only way the "moderate" muslims, however many of them there are, can reconcile their adherence to Islam with anything like a reasonable conscience or morality is to ignore a good portion of the Koran or to interpret it in a way Mohammed didn't mean for it to be interpreted.

Islam isn't purely religious. It's overtly political as well.

It scares me.