Our old friend John Esposito chimes in once more, this time in the Washington [Bleep] (as Mr Liddy would say), about how swell Islam is. Like all good propagandists, Mr Esposito expertly combines vague truths with crucial omissions. Let's take a look:
Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam originated in the Middle East. As F.E. Peters shows in "The Children of Abraham," the commonalities can be striking. Muslims worship the God of Abraham, as do Christians and Jews. Islam was seen as a continuation of the Abrahamic faith tradition, not a totally new religion. Muslims recognize the biblical prophets and believe in the holiness of God's revelations to Moses (in the Torah) and Jesus (in the Gospels). Indeed, Musa (Moses), Issa (Jesus) and Mariam (Mary) are common Muslim names.
All true. Well done, John. No mention, however, that Islam believes that Christians and Jews adulterated their scriptures and that it is the duty of Muslims to conquer such "People of the Book" and compel them to pay the jizya (poll-tax) in accordance with Quran 9:29 and make them "feel themselves subdued." A not-so-minor oversight.
Muhammad is the central role model for Muslims -- much like Jesus is for Christians, except solely human. He is seen as the ideal husband, father and friend, the ultimate political leader, general, diplomat and judge. Understanding Muhammad's special place in Muslim hearts helps us appreciate the widespread anger of many mainstream Muslims -- not just extremists -- with the denigration of a Muhammad-like figure in Salman Rushdie's 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses," the controversial 2005 Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad in unflattering lights or Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 speech quoting a long-dead Byzantine emperor who accused the prophet of bringing "only evil and inhuman" things into the world.
Muslims care so much for their great prophet that they will threaten with death an author who besmirches him and go hysterical over a reference to a "long-dead Byzantine emperor" -- whose civilization, by the way, the Muslims finally extinguished in 1453 by force of arms. Just imagine what they'd do if he'd been a recently-dead Byzantine emperor!
But the more notable point here is Esposito's facile glossing over of what Muhammad means for orthodox Muslims. "He is seen as the ideal husband, father and friend, the ultimate political leader, general, diplomat and judge." Indeed, and therefore -- what? Perhaps it would help the [Bleep]'s readers to tell us a little about the ideal man? But Mr Esposito knows better than that. The last thing he wants to do it to get into a detailed discussion of Muhammad's, shall we say, checkered career. No mention, of course, of the war crime he committed by decapitating the men of the Bani Quraiza after the Battle of Medina as attested to by the canonical Islamic sources, Sahih Al-Bukhari and Ibn Ishaq in the Sira. I had the temerity to mention that yesterday morning on Fox while locking horns with Imam Shamsi Ali. As usual, he replied with the standard Islam-is-peaceful sputter and studiously avoided specifics.
I will cease here and let you take on the rest of Mr Esposito's pablum on your own. Why not express your views to the [Bleep] at email@example.com? Mr Esposito has also obligingly proffered his email, firstname.lastname@example.org, so feel free to tell him what a super job he is doing.