Khalid Hasan of Pakistan’s Daily Times has been upset with me for years. In January 2003 he charged that in my book Islam Unveiled I subject “the Holy Prophet’s person (PBUH) to blasphemous criticism.” In June 2004 he lamented over my book Onward Muslim Soldiers: “How one can fight such ignorance, I am unable to say.” In August 2005 he picked up his lament again: “Meanwhile, Islam-bashing goes on without let or hindrance. The publishers of the book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) claim that it is a bestseller.” It was, Khalid, it was: it stayed on the New York Times Bestseller List for four months.
However, amid all this breast-beating Hasan never gets around to specifying even one inaccuracy in any of these books. Instead, he lists their contents as if that inaccuracy was self-evident — as if it was obviously false that while “Jews and Christians do not accept violent passages in their holy books in a literal sense, Muslims do,” or that women face difficulties under Islamic law, or that the human rights record of Muslim countries is generally poor, or that “secularism” — that is, non-religious government — “will be unable to overcome the hurdles it faces to secure a foothold in the Islamic world.”
But in his latest lament over my alleged “Islam-bashing,” Hasan enlists help from Akbar Ahmed, the Islamic scholar from American University who was allowed to comment on my interview with C-Span’s Brian Lamb last summer before that interview even aired. And Ahmed, as you’ll see, has some harsh things to say — which is a pity, since on C-Span he said: “I know the work of Dr. Spencer and I know a lot of these arguments because I”ve been a scholar of Islam for the last several decades. So, I”m very aware with all my friends and colleagues. And we interact with them. We debate. We discuss.” But he never responded to my invitation to debate and discuss these matters. If he wants to do so, I am available.
“British channel to screen documentary on Islamic art,” by Khalid Hasan in the Daily Times, with thanks to Brian of London:
WASHINGTON: The Glories of Islamic Art, a three-part documentary presented by Dr Akbar Ahmed, is to be screened by Britain’s Channel Five later this month.
Dr Ahmed, a professor of Islamic studies at the American University here, said old prejudices about Islam were resurfacing, and one of the world’s greatest and most humane religion was being portrayed once again, as it was in colonial times, as an inherently violent and fanatical religion that encouraged or condoned terrorism, as monolithic, backward and inferior. It is being accused of subjugating women and denying them their equal rights, making it out to be a religion incompatible with modern Western and democratic values, or even as the implacable enemy of Western civilisation.
Dr Ahmed said, “If you think I am exaggerating, take a look at the Amazon.com website and read the blurb of books, such as The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic or The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam by Robert Spencer, who is also the editor of a huge anthology of articles entitled The Myth of Islamic Tolerance, and whose latest book, The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion, is advertised as a book that “˜gives the truth about Muhammad’s convenient revelations justifying his own licentiousness; his joy in the brutal murders of his enemies; and above all, his clear marching orders to his followers to convert non-Muslims to Islam or force them to live as inferiors under Islamic rule”. Books such as these do not merely disseminate a totally inaccurate account of Islam and Islamic history, but they do so in language that is outrageously abusive, and would never be tolerated if applied to any religion other than Islam.”
“A totally inaccurate account of Islam and Islamic history”? Prove it.
“In language that is outrageously abusive”? I’d like to see him substantiate that from the book itself.
“…would never be tolerated if applied to any religion other than Islam”? What utter hogwash. Does he expect us to forget the deconstruction of Christianity that goes on relentlessly in the mainstream media?
Dr Ahmed lamented that it was so rare nowadays to encounter a book or a film that had anything positive to say about Islam because several media pundits, in collusion with politicians, preferred to pander to the prejudices of the general public. “We live in the age of the politics of fear. Islamophobia clearly pays. For example, the recently released documentary “˜Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” has been an instant box office hit,” he said. The Glories of Islamic Art would prove to be a healthy antidote to neo-orientalist rhetoric used to malign and misrepresent Islam, he added. This television series does not aim to cover the whole history of Islamic art and architecture, but focuses on three great Muslim cities — Damascus, Cairo and Istanbul — moving chronologically from the Umayyad dynasty to that of the Fatimids and Mamluks, and finally to that of the Seljuks and the Ottomans. Other cities, such as Jerusalem, Cordoba and Granada, are briefly discussed. A future project may explore other great Muslim cities further east, such as Isfahan, Delhi and Lahore.
Well, I like Islamic art myself, and I’m sure it will be a great series. But how it will serve as an “antidote” to serious discussion of the jihad ideology and its implications, I’m sure I don’t know.