Book Review: The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam (And The Crusades)

The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam (And The Crusades), by Robert Spencer

As someone who is familiar with both the Politically Incorrect Guides as well as Islam and the Crusades [1], I did not find much in this book to be particularly new.  That is not to say that it was not thoughtful and well-written, only that it is most definitely an inconvenient and politically incorrect book.  Although there was little in the book that I found surprising, especially as someone who has read the Koran in translation and seen its tension between high-minded principles contradicted by later brutalities that remain in force, as well as the lack of universal moral imperatives in Islam itself that restrict the behavior of Muslims towards those they deem unbelievers.  I am not sure what precisely this book is attempting to accomplish, given that its true but impolitic statements are likely to increase the hostility and mistrust that people have against Islam as well as the tendency among Muslims to prevaricate in the audience of Westerners while admitting the truth only among themselves, which hardly helps the problem that this book deals with rather blunt and forcefully about the larger threat and concern about contemporary militant Islam.

The book itself is divided into three parts and eighteen chapters that fill slightly more than 200 pages, making this a book that is pretty easy to read even if it is tough to figure out.  The first part of the book looks at Islam itself (I), discussing Mohammed as a prophet of war (1), looking at the Qur’an as a book of war (2), discussing Islam as a religion of war (3) as well as of intolerance (4), and examining how Islam oppresses women (5) and encourages its believers to lie, steal and kill (6), and also talks about how Islam killed science and free inquiry (7), lures people to a paradise that includes some very unsettling elements (8), and was spread by the sword and the injustices of dhimmitude forced on others (9).  The second part of the book gives a revisionist history of the crusades (II) that discusses why the crusades were called (10), contrasts myth and reality about how they were engaged in (11), discusses their accomplishments (12), gives a counterfactual picture of life in the absence of the crusades (13), and has some critical things to say about those who would view Islam and Christianity as equivalent traditions (14).  Finally, the author takes on the contentious issue of contemporary Islam (III) in looking at the continuing jihad (15), the illegitimacy of claims about Islamophobia (16), the dangers that result to those who criticize Islam (17), and the crusade that we must fight today in defense of Western civilization (18).

In reading this book, I was struck by the disconnect between the author’s fierce but well-sourced rhetoric and the sort of response to it that would be acceptable.  When we look at Judaism and Christianity, it is easy to lament that there are so many people in those faiths who do not live up to the high-minded ideals of both faiths.  When it comes to Islam, though, the only good people that I would want as neighbors would be bad Muslims who are ignorant of and at least ambivalent towards the violent dictates and backwards hermeneutics of their religion.  Moreover, it is hard to know how a genuinely thoughtful moderate who would feel threatened by more extremist Muslims and also frustrated with a lack of acceptance from the West would handle the unpleasant truths of this book.  At least when one deals with bad Christians and bad Jews (or bad Buddhists, for that matter), at least there is something positive that can be said about the ideals of a faith that are not being lived up to.  What are we to say about a faith that does not command fidelity or honesty or decency on the part of Muslims towards those who are considered traitors or outsiders to their faith?  And how can Muslims prove their loyalty in the face of growing mistrust and hostility when their religion is so full of justifications for deception in such matters as interfaith relations?

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Book Review: The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam (And The Crusades)

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Crisis Of Islam | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Third Jihad | Edge Induced Cohesion

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