It's war in the information battlespace and unabashed dhimmitude over at The Puff Ho. The culture is at war against America, and each and every one of us is a soldier in the war of ideas. The left knows this and does battle every day.
The Huffington Post has a slick, dishonest, Goebbels-style post on Islamic propaganda. If the Onion ran this as satire, you might be hard pressed to believe it. "This Christmas, Give the Gift of Knowledge About Islam." I too agree that "the gift of knowledge about Islam" is a great Christmas gift idea -- "knowledge," not proselytizing or whitewash, but facts and historical accuracy. Get your loved ones books by Bat Ye'or, Robert Spencer, Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, Mark Durie, Sir Martin Gilbert. Their lives and their children's lives, and ultimately, the life of your country depends on it.
Of course, at the Puff Ho, there is no mention of gender apartheid, genocide, slavery, child marriage, polygamy, misogyny, clitorectomies, gender aparthied, historical revisionism, archeological crimes, falsification of non-Muslim religions, dhimmitude, Islamic supremcacism, imperialism or domination.
You are under attack, get armed -- with knowledge.
This Christmas, Give the Gift of Knowledge About Islam Huffington Post hat tip Julia Gorin
And now, for most Americans, it's the season of gift-giving. Some love the season, while some protest its commercialization. I suggest making the best of it. This holiday season, why not share the gift of good books -- and all the wisdom they can provide? When misinformation on Islam, Muslims, and America's relationships to the Muslim-majority world is in oversupply, we need relevant and useful information. Conversations about Islam shape local, regional, and global affairs: to not know about Islam is to be left out of issues that deeply affect all of us.
In that holiday spirit, I'm sharing a list of great books about Islam and Muslims, in the hope that you'll share them too, as profound (and affordable) presents. What better way to create excitement on Christmas morning than by watching your loved ones unwrap presents to reveal the word "Islam," and the noticeable, measurable, visible jump in their heart rate that follows? (Ask their doctors if they're healthy enough to unwrap books about Islam. Chances are, their doctors, being Muslim, will get it.)
Or you can just gift them to yourself.
Are Civilizations Clashing?
Do Muslims hate the West? If so, why? Why do some Muslims radicalize? What cultural incompatibilities exist between Islam and the West? Building off of works like Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong?, too many analysts presume that there is a core conflict, and that this conflict, of which Afghanistan and Iraq are manifestations, is cultural, and therefore both essential and inevitable. Don't believe the hype.
Mahmood Mamdani's Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror explains how and why radical Islam has become a threat, and how to comprehend radicalism not as an unavoidable cultural expression, but as a political grievance translated by the cultural world it emerges from. If you're going to read one book on the "clash of civilizations," read Mamdani's.[..]
Who Let Shariah Through Passport Control?
You can't have a conversation these days without worrying about Shariah. The term is complicated enough to explain in a soundbite, never mind what hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world make of it. And, of course, Oklahoma's out to fight back against Islam's conquest of Middle America, and will bury the Ten Commandments in a panic over surreptitious Islamification, Muslimization, or whatever. Everybody needs to calm down.
Start your detoxification with Dalia Mogahed and John Esposito's Who Speaks for Islam? What A Billion Muslims Really Think. It'll make you unthink everything you might think about Shariah. Next up: The best explanation of the political attraction of Shariah to many in the Muslim-majority world has to be Noah Feldman's The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State; Feldman explains how Muslim societies had been structured in the past, the political shortcomings of many Muslim-majority states today, and how Shariah has become a symbol of democratic and Islamic reform, trashing any simple opposition of Islam and modernity.
The work of Islamic supremacists and apologists.
The Forest for the Palm Trees
Of course, one of the primary reasons for ongoing tensions between the Muslim world and the West has been differing interpretations of current conflicts. Did it start with Bin Laden? Is it about the Taliban, too? Is it about radicalism more generally? How do other Middle Eastern conflicts factor in?
There have been a huge number of works about America after September 11th, but certainly one of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking is Karen Greenberg's The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days. Greenberg is a fabulous writer, pointing out the larger issues at work while describing the day-to-day drama at Camp X-Ray and the decency of the men and women on the ground who pushed back against a dangerous direction in American policy.
Are we well-educated, suburban, often brown folks actually trying to take over your country, which is also our country? Why do some Americans believe that a tremendously religiously and ethnically diverse and also very tiny minority actually has any chance of taking over the country? Never mind that many American Muslims came here to escape the religious and political persecution our haters allege we're all about imposing.
Of course, Islam is far deeper and more profound than the events that have dominated the news over the past few decades. Don't mind those "experts on Islam," who make comments like "Islam has existed in Europe since the 1960's" (clear-up: there have been European Muslims on that continent longer than there have been Protestants in existence). Islam in the West is very often an indigenous phenomenon. I must push you towards Geneive Abdo's overview, From Mecca to Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11, filled with great stories, and Mustafa Bayoumi's troubling How Does It Feel to be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America. (It's not about Islam per se, but does get to the heart of the conflation.)
A Sound Heart
And, to end things, let us not forget that Islam is, at its heart, its beginning and in its ends, a religion. We hopefully don't need the Department of Justice to remind us of this.
To better understand the Qur'an, Islam's holy text, try Ingrid Mattson's The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life, and then check out the following translations: Tarif Khalidi's (which is just a translation, without commentary and with minimal notes) and Abdullah Yusuf Ali's (the most popular translation among Anglophone Muslims); if you're looking for something inspirational, and easier to digest, Princeton Chaplain Sohaib Sultan's The Qur'an and Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad is worth checking out (his The Koran for Dummies is, title aside, a wonderful introductory resource as well).
To understand the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his place in Muslim life, either read Martin Lings' tremendously ambitious, but sometimes overwhelming study, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources (only for the serious reader -- it's easy to get lost in the details), or go for Karen Armstrong's much slimmer and more accessible biography, Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time. To get a good sense of the place of Islam in the world, from its emergence to the contemporary, you'll certainly love Reza Aslan's book, also titled No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. And to perceive Muslim spirituality through a more advanced text, which requires a fair amount of background knowledge, pick up Diseases of the Heart, by Hamza Yusuf, which does a good job explaining the core Islamic ideal of purification, which is central to the Islamic understanding of achieving nearness to God through a moral life.
To understand Muhammad read:
The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion -- Paperback (July 17, 2007) by Robert Spencer