Monday, May 28, 2007

BOOK REPORT: “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion” by Robert Spencer

Robert Spencer’s “The Truth About Muhammad” is a valuable reference book for those looking for the facts surrounding the most controversial areas in the life and teachings of the founder of Islam. Though a quick read (only about 185 pages) it is not an easy read. Spencer writes with such a defensiveness about not taking Mohammed out of context, his prose gets bogged down in long passages from the Koran and other early Islamic writings. And the translation used by Spencer read like the King James Version of the Koran with all its 17th Century anachronisms.

Spencer’s conclusions are inflammatory but the plodding way he goes about telling the tale is numbing. There is a near complete lack of narrative. It is basically a series of “Mohammed’s Most Embarrassing or Troublesome Sayings.”

The reader is not given much context for Mohammed’s success and the success of his message. What was going on in Arabia in the 7th Century that contributed to Mohammed’s movement? How was Islam different from other faith movements in the area? And many, many more unanswered questions.

The book is a place to find the “killer quote” to win an argument but not a place to find understanding about how all of these issues raised in the book intersect with Islamic history and our current challenges.

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