Raymond Ibrahim: New book on Muhammad omits “images of Muhammad as war-monger, highway-bandit, misogynist and assassin”

In the Fall 2010 issue of Middle East Quarterly, our great old friend Raymond Ibrahim reviews a new book, Images of Muhammad: Narratives of the Prophet in Islam across the Centuries by Tarif Khalidi, and finds, entirely unsurprisingly for a product of today’s academic establishment, that Khalidi “omits the more troubling images” of Muhammad — that is, the ones echoed in the behaviors of today’s more troubling Muslims.”

One other thing is also noteworthy about Raymond’s review: that the biographical material about Muhammad in the Hadith is so voluminous and self-contradictory that Muslims can use it to justify virtually anything. Yes, Muhammad teaches peace, but he also teaches war. Yes, he says do not kill innocents, but then he kills people for the crime of making fun of him. And so nowadays we have Islamic spokesmen invoking Muhammad as justification for vastly dissimilar and even contradictory modes of behavior.

Here, by the way, is an alternative. And here is an excerpt from Raymond’s review:

[…] It is not that Khalidi does not acknowledge that negative images exist; he just shies from recounting the most notorious. Thus, while the reader will encounter Muhammad the commander, the lawgiver, the ethicist, even the Sufi mystic, images of Muhammad as war-monger, highway-bandit, misogynist, and assassin are lacking.

For example, the worst image Khalidi presents of Muhammad involves his killing an enemy combatant even though the latter begged for clemency. One would have thought Muhammad’s assassination of poets by deceit and other means–including one old woman, Umm Qirfa, whose body was rent in half[1]–calls for equal mention. Objectively speaking, such less than inspiring images deserve more prominence. After all, when pious believers pass down anecdotes that may reflect negatively on their prophet, it seems only reasonable to treat these, especially in comparison to the numerous praiseworthy images, as important factors of the Muhammad persona.

Ultimately, however, the book is useful in that it implicitly demonstrates how the concept of sunna (a model of Muslim behavior based on the sayings, customs, and actions of Muhammad) is impractical. For when one compares the many pictures of the prophet, discrepancies abound: Muhammad loves peace, except when he wages war; he hates poetry, but also enjoys it; he bans the killing of women and children, except when they get in the way; he condemns foul speech, but tells his enemies to “bite their father’s penis.”

Sunna, then, becomes a divine sanction for any given Muslim to follow his proclivities–provided an applicable image of Muhammad can be found. And, as Khalidi’s book shows, images of the prophet appear endless.

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Comments

  1. says

    “It is not that Khalidi does not acknowledge that negative images exist; he just shies from recounting the most notorious. Thus, while the reader will encounter Muhammad the commander, the lawgiver, the ethicist, even the Sufi mystic, images of Muhammad as war-monger, highway-bandit, misogynist, and assassin are lacking.”

    Are you trying to say that Moslems are being deceptive?

    (Snark)

  2. says

    O.T.

    I’ve just donated $250 to Jihad Watch for all the OUTSTANDING work that this site is doing to raise American’s and Westerner’s consciences with regard to world worldwide Jihad, both overt and otherwise.

    This $250 (and more) would have gone to my Episcopal parish, however my sadly Dhimmi Reverend has turned me off by suggesting that 9/11 was an “inside job” and that I would do well by reading a dismal book called “Loving Bin Laden”. That sounds like a recipe for suicide, leaving no cheeks to “turn”, the flesh having been destroyed by Islamofasciism.

    Furthermore, I may well redirect some of my previously designated Episcopalian funds to the Barnabas Fund, which strives to help religiously persecuted Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    I do truly believe that Jihad Watch is doing more to promote true understanding of this world than many of the Mainline Protestant American churches who have fallen under the spell of multi-culti political correctness.

    Robert, Marisol, Roland, David H., and innumerable bright
    and engaged commenters : keep up the good work & Merry Christmas !

  3. says

    Muslim historians have proudly chronicled all of the evil acts of Muhammad in such books as al-Tabari’s “History” and Ibn Ishaq’s “Life of Muhammad” including the cold-blooded beheading of 600 to 900 Jews in the marketplace of Medina for no other reason than that they were Jews. These books are probably the most authorative accounts, and they have survived over 1,000 years.

    Now, in the 21st Century, Muslim historians are compelled to whitewash or omit some of their Prophet’s egregious acts, particularly when the write in English. This is an acknowledgment that Muhammad was NOT a “good example” per Quran surah 33:21. What Christian historian would cover up details from the life of Jesus? That just isn’t even thinkable.

  4. says

    Robert Spencer’s biography of mohammed is highly recommended. His mohammed is the mohammed of orthodox islamic teaching without leaving out any unflattering detail;-)

    I am currently reading Hans Jansen’s biography of mohammed. It takes account of modern scholarly work such as by Luxenberg. Jansen is a dutch scholar, I am currently reading the biography in German.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mohammed-Hans-Jansen/dp/3406568580/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292862570&sr=8-1

    An English translation should follow soon, I hope.

  5. says

    Only slightly off-topic, I just finished reading Karen Armstrong’s appalling book, “Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time”. This is one of the most meretricious books I have read.

    Armstrong has it both ways”she presents “the Prophet” as a universal model in most cases, and makes it clear that Muslims consider him in this light.

    Whenever some incident is simply too disturbing, though’such as the beheading of 900 of the Banu Qurayza’she switches gears, emphasizing that Muhammad is a historical figure, and lived during a brutal time. Her case then is that Muhammad was no worse than his vicious contemporaries, and was at times much better.

    For one thing, this is *hardly* the case. While 7th century Arabia was indisputably a violent, barbaric place in general”rife with caravan raiding, tribal skirmishes, and random murder followed by violent reprisal”even they had “sacred months” when violence ceased. Muhammed violated the “sacred months”, making piracy and murder Halal at any time for Muslims.

    He wiped out independent Jewry in the entire Arabian peninsula in just a few years”murdering and enslaving them”nothing even his violent contemporaries ever attempted to do. He went on to crush even his own tribe, and then launched a bloody wave of conquest throughout the peninsula and beyond.

    The other, perhaps even more salient question is this”why would someone who came out of this savage milieu possibly be considered “a prophet for our time”?

    Armstrong never answers that question”indeed, never broaches it in the first place. Much of her praise of Muhammed has to do with what wonderful “solutions” he offered his Arab contemporaries, as they dealt with their inferiority complexes vis-a-vis Judaism and Christianity, and the more sophisticated temporal powers of their time, such as Byzantium. She never makes it clear why we should care about these issues ourselves, nor in what possible manner this makes Muhammed a “Prophet for our time”.

    She frequently whitewashes Muhammed’s actions. While she does note that he married Aisha a nine, she rather implausibly”and with no citations whatsoever’says that he didn’t actually begin having sex with her until she reached puberty.

    She also condones his assassinations of poets, noting that poetry was a much more political matter in 7th century Arabia. Never mind that the usual response to such poets at the time was simply to muster some bards of your own.

    Throughout, she rails at Westerners”who she decries as ignorant and bigoted when it comes to “the Prophet” and his great gifts. How can we have failed to properly appreciate Muhammed? She seems genuinely disturbed and angry over this, and loses whatever vague objectivity she may otherwise have had.

    The thing is, as bowdlerized and whitewashed as her account is, it fails to convince. The essential savagery and brutality of Muhammed comes through anyway, despite Ms. Armstrong’s best efforts.

  6. says

    I suppose Ibrahim,s new version of the koran will be wheeled out for us stupid dimmies, while the true version continues to be the main reference book for all inteligent life in islam.

  7. says

    “Have I missed anything?”

    Sure. You missed the main point: Muhammad was also a great inspiration and eternal excuse for people even more stupid, barbaric, primitive and greedy then he was. 😉

  8. says

    Have I missed anything?

    Acromegaly. As in Mohammad’s acromegalic foot, gives new meaning to “yeah sure, my foot” when rebutting Muslims; the captions says:

    “Why that footprint doesn’t look normal:
    “In the later years of his life Muhammad was affected by ACROMEGALY, a disease caused by excessive production of a growth hormone, resulting in large bones, cold and fleshy hands and feet and coarse facial features such as enlarged lips, nose and tongue. Acromegaly occurs after the age of 40 and usually kills the patient in his early 60s’.”

    This was in addition to Mohammad’s other ‘illnesses’ which afflicted this “perfect man” until his death. Of course, he had other conditions that led to his mental disorders, namely that he thought of himself a ‘messenger of God’ in the old Hebrew tradition of prophets, so had a totally dillusional self image, which is really a form of self-deceit and denial of reality, something he managed to pass onto his ‘Allah’. Now he is “worshipped” by 1.2 billion Allah-cult followers of the planet. …Acromegalic Sick!!!

  9. says

    You mean to tell me that your church is actually pushingLoving Bin Laden?
    What is happening to the Christian faith in America?
    Even Catholics are accepting more Muslims in their universities and colleges.
    I gess desperate times call for desperate measures. The churches, particularly the Vatican churches, are feeling the financial pinch and so they are accepting satan’s money to keep them afloat.

  10. says

    Its seems only the fundemental evangelical churches will speak the truth about Islam. As no one likes them any way. Because they tell the truth, and have not been (most of them) enslaved by the PC lie.

  11. says

    Paul Collins wrote:

    I suppose Ibrahim,s new version of the koran will be wheeled out for us stupid dimmies, while the true version continues to be the main reference book for all inteligent life in islam.
    ………………………..

    Please note, Paul”Raymond Ibrahim is a *staunch anti-Jihadist*, and has long been a contributor to Jihad Watch.

    The meretricious book he is reviewing”Images of Muhammad: Narratives of the Prophet in Islam across the Centuries”is by Tarif Khalidi.