My informed opinion on Jasser's Islam is well known. I think he is dear and sweet, but represents few. Jasser claiming that Maimonides did his great work under Islam is insulting. Maimonides was born in Spain; to avoid persecution by the Muslims — who were wont to offer Jews and Christians the choice of conversion to Islam or death — Maimonides fled with his family, first to Morocco, later to Israel, and finally to Egypt (more here).
Ibn Warraq, leading scholar on Islam, quotes Maimonides about the Muslim rule under which he lived:
Maimonides's The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen was written in about 1172 in reply to inquiries by Jacob ben Netan'el al-FayyÅ«mi, the then head of the Jewish community in Yemen. The Jews of Yemen were passing through a crisis, as they were being forced to convert to Islam, a campaign launched in about 1165 by 'Abd-al-NabÄ« ibn Mahdi. Maimonides provided them with guidance and with what encouragement he could. The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen gives a clear view of what Maimonides thought of Muhammad the Prophet, "the Madman" as he calls him, and of Islam generally. This is what Maimonides wrote:
You write that the rebel leader in Yemen decreed compulsory apostasy for the Jews by forcing the Jewish inhabitants of all the places he had subdued to desert the Jewish religion just as the Berbers had compelled them to do in Maghreb [i.e.Islamic West]. Verily, this news has broken our backs and has astounded and dumbfounded the whole of our community. And rightly so. For these are evil tidings, "and whosoever heareth of them, both his ears tingle (I Samuel 3:11)." Indeed our hearts are weakened, our minds are confused, and the powers of the body wasted because of the dire misfortunes which brought religious persecutions upon us from the two ends of the world, the East and the West, "so that the enemies were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side." (Joshua 8:22).Maimonides points out that persistent persecutions of the Jews by the Muslims amounts to forced conversion:
...the continuous persecutions will cause many to drift away from our faith, to have misgivings, or to go astray, because they witnessed our feebleness, and noted the triumph of our adversaries and their dominion over us......During the last fifteen years, certain Western scholars have tried to argue that, first, Islamic antisemitism, that is hatred of Jews, is only a recent phenomenon learnt from the Nazis during and after the 1940s, and, second, that Jews lived safely under Muslim rule for centuries, especially during the Golden Age of Muslim Spain. Both assertions are unsupported by the evidence. Islam, that is, the Islam of the texts, as found in the Koran, and Hadith (the sayings and deeds of the Prophet and his Companions) and in the Sira (the biography of Muhammad, which obviously overlaps with the Hadith), and Islam, that is the Islam developed or elaborated from those texts early on by the Koranic commentators and jurisconsults, and then set in stone more than a millennium ago, and even Islam, in the sense of Islamic Civilization, that is, what Muslims actually did historically, have all been deeply antisemitic. That is, all have been anti-Infidel so that Christians too are regarded with disdain and contempt and hatred, but the Jews have been served, or been seen to have merited, a special animus.
On April 3, at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's West Coast Retreat in Palos Verdes, California, I debated Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser on the prospects for reform in Islam. Andrew McCarthy, author of Willful Blindness, was moderating.If the embedded video doesn't show up on your screen, you can find it here.