It would seem that the overwhelming majority of western civilization is working overtime in order to prove the old adage:
"...those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
In view of the darkness that lurks in our human history, the idea of repeating such a past is no pleasant thought. But this is exactly what we find happening throughout the world today as many world leaders are trying desperately to find a peaceful middle-ground between Islam and the rest of the world. Yet it is this premise of finding a peaceful middle-ground that is so enigmatic, especially when one considers the core beliefs of Islam as revealed in the Qur'an. It is to this very point that Robert Spencer's book, The Truth about Muhammad - Founder of the Word's Most Intolerant Religion, shows just how dangerous it is to remain ignorant about the history of Islam. Within the short span of 194 pages, Spencer manages to synthesize three crucial Muslim texts, the Qur'an, the Hadith and the Sira, in order to give a comprehensive history of Muhammad's life and warring conquests. He is factual, respectful, and measured in his own analysis of Islam's prophet. In the end, Spencer's historical analysis becomes a clear condemnation against those who would characterize Islam as a peaceful religion:
"...the example of Muhammad, the highest model for human behavior, constantly pulls them [Muslims] in a different direction. The fact that Western analysts continue to ignore all this demonstrates the ease with which people can be convinced of something they wish to believe, regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary." p. 183.
Spencer's assessment of the West's bias is very important also, for it would seem that many in our culture are willing to ignore the facts of history in order to embrace a fantasy that is far less terrifying - and there are plenty of Islamic organizations who are eager to feed that fantasy (as in the case of C.A.I.R. - the Council on American Islamic Relations, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas). But those who endeavor to present Islam in a kinder light are forced to redact, or even ignore, the foundation and founder of Islam itself:
"It is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain that Islam is a religion of peace when warfare and booty were among the chief preoccupations of the Prophet of Islam. Sincere Islamic reformers should confront these facts, instead of ignoring or glossing over them, and work to devise ways in which Muslims can retreat from the proposition that Muhammad's example is in all ways normative. If they do not do so, one outcome is certain: bloodshed perpetrated in the name of Islam and in imitation of its prophet will continue." pp. 176-77.
It is this centrality of Muhammed that makes it impossible to separate out the violence, bloodshed and world domination that is inherent in Islam's epistemology:
Qur'an 33:21. Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.
Spencer is also careful to point out the fallacy which asserts that Islam is compatibility with Christianity (pp. 177-183). Many people in the mainstream media have advanced this false notion, however the Qur'an clearly denies the deity (Qur'an 4:171) and crucifixion of Jesus Christ (4:157) - two of the most central tenants of Christian faith, and yet many today (whether by ignorance, or by fantasy-chasing) have advanced the idea of Islam being favorable towards the Christian faith. However, the only way in which Muhammad ever demonstrated a partial tolerance of "Christians" is when they were willing to forsake their core beliefs as an act of subjugation under Islamic rule. It frankly strains the limits of credulity to say that this is "tolerance" and yet this has become yet another mantra within the chorus of Islamic apologetics today.
Finally, Spencer's work aids the reader in understanding the context of conflict within Islam when he states:
"The Sunni-Shi'ite fault line within Islam has given rise to considerable violence over the centuries, and in the twenty-first century threatens to erupt again into open war in Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere. It is a legacy entirely in keeping with the attitudes and behavior of the Prophet of Islam."
This is an outstanding work and I commend Mr. Spencer for his labors in it. I count this as a must read for anyone looking for an overview of Muhammed's life, and how his example is the very bedrock of Islam itself. As a final note, I have written this review shortly after Bishop Martinus Muskens reportedly advised his congregants to refer to God as Allah, saying: "God doesn't really care how we address Him." Though many in the world may view this as a form of lateral ecumenism, it is not. Besides apostasy from genuine Christianity itself, the bishop's actions are yet another example of fearful subjugation and historical ignorance - two diseases that are already plaguing our world today.