Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald offers a few reading suggests for the military and others:
Anyone who has gone to Iraq and has not yet read the books of Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or (I’d give someone The Dhimmi first, then Islam and Dhimmitude and The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam and then, if they have made it through those, Eurabia which is the most difficult read of all), Ibn Warraq, and The Legacy of Jihad — should. Give them one or more. Send them to the base libraries.
Ibn Warraq’s two books on the origins and early development of the Muslim holy book, The Origins of the Koran and What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, & Commentary need to be read by anyone wishing to comment on when the Koran became finally more-or-less accepted in the form it is known today. Contrary to the contentions of the enthusiast and Believer, there is no evidence for this Koran (I will stick in this posting with this spelling) having jelled during the time of Muhammad (i.e., in the period when Believers think Muhammad existed), but very likely much later.
What was the role played in the making of the Koran by, for example, the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus (the same one who placed the “farthest mosque” in Jerusalem)?
And as for “one Koran” — what shall we say about Hafs and Warsh variants of the Koran, and their differences?
Ibn Warraq traces the history of Western Koranic scholarship (Muslim scholarship is of course identical to the received standard version of Islamic belief, and one can adjust that version only in very tiny ways, at the edges, or face the obvious consequences, if one is a Muslim or still claims to be) in an essay in a recently-published collection that also contains the important article on the Dome of the Rock’s supposed “Muslimness” by the scholar Christoph Luxenberg.
Ibn Warraq is also completing his latest book, entitled “Which Koran?” He holds no academic position. No Middle Eastern Department will touch him. He has been invited to speak at a few places, but he is not recognized by the apologists of MESA Nostra. Neither the Muslims who now make up a majority of its membership and are fiercely protective of Islam and will not brook real scholarship about it, and the others, the get-along non-Muslim apologists who fear their Muslim colleagues, or have a sympathy for Islam that possibly led them to such specialization in the first place, will have anything to do with him or his work.
But it is Ibn Warraq, and not they, who had done the most to gather material, his and that of other scholars, and with his own brilliant essays explained that corpus of schoalrship, and its history.
It is he who will enter history — not a single one of his detractors or those so carefully ignoring him.
They should be embarrassed. Of course they are not. Not in the slightest.
For lives of Mohammad, I like best those by non-Muslims, especially Muir’s The Life of Mahomet. It has been reprinted and is available for about $50. There are other biographies by non-Muslims — Arthur Jeffery, Tor Andrae, and Maxime Rodinson — all in English. I think any edition of the Sira for Muslims will have all the stuff you might think wouldn’t be there — but it’s there. Don’t miss especially Guillaume’s translation of Ibn Ishaq’s early Sira.
As for the Hadith, properly Ahadith in the plural but usage now permits one to use “Hadith” as the plural, and I prefer it — just fits English better, there is Al Ahadith Al Sahiha (Al Albani), which is a compendium of all the authoritative, good, true and trustworthy, or “Sahih” collections, of which those by al-Bukhari and Muslim (the name of the compiler), are held to be the best, the most authoritative.
But these collections are very expensive. You can find this stuff on line. That’s one of the few things about the Internet worth having. The Internet has all this stuff, sometimes very nicely arranged by topic: Infidels, Women, Warfare, and so on.
You might, just for fun, ask the Saudi Embassy or someone for a free compilation of the Ahadith. Perhaps they’ll think you are a likely candidate for adult-onset Islam, and want to help you in your Spiritual Search. They’ve got the money. See what they’ll send you. And read around in it slowly so you don’t go crazy. It will make you crazy.
Let the too-loyal generals get their potted reading lists, helpfully prepared by the likes of John Esposito and Peter Bechtold.
The officers and men of the regular army, the Reserves, the National Guard, can form a core, and in turn educate others.
That’s the secret.