Beginning with its title, The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran, and the cheeky "icons" on the cover, Robert Spencer's new book is guaranteed to annoy some people even before they read it (which they probably won't bother doing anyhow.)
If you have read Spencer's other books about Islam, The Complete Infidel's Guide... won't provide you with any new information.
I love Kathy Shaidle, but here I must beg to differ. Since I have written nine books on Islam and jihad, people seem to be assuming that there is nothing more to say, and that I am rehashing material from old books. This is not the case. So let's get specific, since this has come up before. In this book, and in none of my other books, I discuss how the Koran was compiled; alternate versions of the Koran; alleged miracles of the Koran; how the Koran adapts and alters Biblical stories such as those of Adam, Noah, Moses, Solomon, Mary and Jesus; the Koranic appropriation of Jewish, Christian and even pagan figures; the foundations of Islamic mysticism in the Koran; the ways in which seemingly innocuous passages of the Koran actually convey meanings quite different from what may appear to non-Muslim Westerners; how the Koran's stories of the Biblical prophets are all told in a way meant to support Muhammad's prophetic claim; why Muslims regard the Jews as their worst enemies; how and why the New Testament accounts of Christ are altered in the Koran; the Koran's moral code and what it is conspicuously lacking; and more.
This new book is best considered as a gift for any friends who are misinformed about the Muslim religion. Because of its easy-to-read format, it is also a helpful handbook for anyone who finds themselves caught up in religious and political arguments on a regular basis.
As its title suggests, the book is designed to be an easy read, with its helpful side bars and other "dummies/idiots" layout features. Sometimes, those breezy and irreverent sidebars are more jarring than informative, placed as they are amidst Spencer's alarming exegesis.
Spencer, who has studied the Koran in depth for many years, offers ready answers for apologists who insist that Islam is a "peaceful religion" that has been "misunderstood" by a "tiny minority of extremists."
Using actual quotations from the Koran itself, Spencer argues that this is simply not the case. He insists that anti-Semitism and anti-Christian feeling is rife throughout the Muslim holy book, not to mention all the verses advocating domestic violent [sic].
Spencer also compares the New Testament's famous teachings about loving your enemies with Koranic injunctions to kill them. Overall, the Koran is steeped in troubling stories of slavery, occupation and downright strangeness that will surprise readers expecting it to be a sort of "Arabian Nights" version of the Christian Gospel.
Spencer counters all the familiar protestations: that critics are "taking the Koran out of context" or that one can't really understand the Koran anyway unless they read it in Arabic (which conveniently places many ignorant Westerners at a disadvantage.)
The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran is the very best introduction around to what the Koran actually says, how political correctness has made it almost impossible to discuss the Koran and other sacred Muslim texts candidly, and how everyone from George Bush to Barack Obama have misinterpreted it - with grave implications for national security and foreign policy.