The Myth of Islamic Tolerance
|January 31, 2005
The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims is a book edited by Robert Spencer, dealing with the history of non-Muslim populations during and after the conquest of their lands by Muslims. It features 17 chapters by Bat Ye'or, essays by Ibn Warraq, Walid Phares, David Littman, Patrick Sookhdeo, and Mark Durie.
The 58 essays in the current book make a radical attack on the widespread idea that Islamic societies have been historically more tolerant and friendly to minorities than Western culture.
Spencer argues that history and Islamic doctrine show repeatedly that “Islam doesn't accept a position as just one among a community of disparate religions but must struggle to make itself supreme.” He claims that modern jihadists have manipulated the various "cultural pathologies" of the West. These pathologies include the myth of the “noble savage,” the tendency to idealize more primitive or alien non-Western cultures in order to castigate one's own, which has distorted the West's understanding of Islam from the beginning.
This (according to the book ) obscures the true nature of Islam, leading to the strange phenomenon of non-Muslim Westerners “hastening to assure the public that the Islam of the terrorists is not the 'true Islam,' which is, they maintain, a benign and tolerant thing.”
From the Inside Flap
This enlightening collection of essays by some of the world's leading authorities on Islamic social history focuses on the pervasive legal and cultural oppression of non-Muslims in Islamic societies. The authors of these-in-depth but accessible articles explode the widely advocacy groups, of a largely tolerant, pluralistic Islam. In fact, the contributors lay bare the tyrannical legal superstructure that has treated non-Muslims in Muslim societies as oppressed and humiliated tributaries, and they show the devastating effects of these discriminatory attitudes and practices in both past and contemporary global conflicts.
The insightful chapters presented in The Myth of Islamic Tolerance explain how the legally mandated subjugation of non-Muslims under Islamic law stems from the Muslim concept of jihad--the spread of Islam through conquest. Historically, the Arab Muslim conquerors overran vast territories containing diverse non-Muslim populations. Many of these conquered people surrendered to Muslim domination under a special treaty called dhimma in Arabic. As such, these non-Muslim indigenous populations, mainly Christians and Jews, were then classified under Islamic law as dhimmis (meaning "protected"). Although protected status may sound benign, this classification in fact referred, most importantly, to "protection" from the resumption of the jihad against non-Muslims. The authors maintain that underlying this religious caste system is a culturally ingrained contempt for outsiders that still characterizes much of the Islamic world today and is a primary catalyst for jihad terrorism, jihadist-martyrdom bombers, and a Nazi-like racist antisemitism taught in school systems and propagated via the media.
Included are Ibn Warraq writing about Edward Said and the "intellectual turbans" he has placed on today's academic establishment, forestalling honest discussion about Islamic tolerance; Bat Ye'or on the devastating effects of the dhimma, the system that actually defines the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in Islamic states; Walid Phares on the little-noted oppression of Middle Eastern Christians; and much more--including a devastating series of articles by UN expert David G. Littman on the advancement of Islamic intolerance at the United Nations and other provocative topics usually ignored by Muslim apologists.
This hard-hitting and absorbing assessment of Islamic teachings and practices regarding non-Muslim minorities uncovers a significant human rights scandal that rarely receives any mention either in academic circles or in the mainstream press.
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