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Archive for December 29th, 2012

Spencer Islam Unveiled

 Purchase: Amazon

This is no doubt a controversial book. The history of oppression by Islam and the author bringing up of Islamic terror from recent headlines is sobering. Maybe because it was all the negative reviews and attacks on the author might have influenced me, but this book was more balanced than I expected. Those who have spent some time studying Islam critically might find things covered elsewhere questioning whether Islam really is a religion of peace. I thought the author was nuanced enough in the work to make it clear this is not an attack on Muslims as it is a critique of Islam itself. Since much of Islamic apologetics has to attack Judism, Christianity and Catholicism, the author does have to compare these faiths with Islam and show their objection does not stand. Here is probably the weakness of the author, who is not really as strong in the Bible as he is with the Quran. The author from what I understand is Catholic, though from the feel of the book his influence also include Western classical liberalism and a product of Modern Enlightment. As a result of his influence, the chapters in his book addresses the concern of Secular Western democracy such as whether Islam is compatiable with Liberal Democracy (chapter 5), whether it is compatible with Western pluralistic framework (chapter 6) and respect human rights (chapter 3), all three which the author answer in the negative. Most fascinating for me was his chapter dealing with whether Science can florish under Islam, in which he dealt with the history of Islam’s golden period of scholars such as Avicenna (known best among Christians probably for the Kalam Cosmological Argument) were really those who sought learning and synthesizing knowledge from non-Muslims such as Classical Greek sources. However, eventually strong dogmatism with the Quran crushed scientific endeavors and brought about the end of the “Golden Age” of Islam. It makes me want to learn more about these Muslims scholars and their Muslim opponents. The work also put historical perspective of the Crusades (which the author does not endorse) and also pointed out that if Muslims were to argue against the Crusades they also have to argue against Islamic Imperialism as well. Perhaps the saddest part of the book is the chapter on Islam and woman, in which the charge of rape and honor killing was incredibly sad.

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