Richard Melson

August 2006

Islamophobia Industry

The Truth About Muhammad:

Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion

by Robert Spencer



Editorial Reviews & Book Description:

In this startling new book, New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer, provides a warts-and-all portrait of the Prophet of Islam and draws out what his life implies for reforming Islam and repulsing Islamic terrorists. Spencer relies solely on primary sources considered reliable by Muslims and evaluates modern biographies to show how Muhammad has been changed for Western audiences, lulling them into consoling but false conclusions.

Product Details



ROBERT SPENCER, the director of Jihad Watch, is a writer and researcher who has written six books, seven monographs, and well over a hundred articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism. His latest book is the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) (Regnery). He is also the author of Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter) and Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery).

He is coauthor, with Daniel Ali, of Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics (Ascension), and editor of the essay collection The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims (Prometheus).

His next book, The Truth About Muhammad, is coming October 9 from Regnery Publishing.

Spencer (MA, Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history in depth since 1980. He is an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation, and his monographs on Islam are available from the Foundation:

An Introduction to the Qur'an; Women and Islam; An Islamic Primer; Islam and the West; The Islamic Disinformation Lobby; Islam vs. Christianity; and Jihad in Context.

His articles on Islam and other topics have appeared in the New York Post, the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News, Canada's National Post, FrontPage, WorldNet Daily, Insight in the News, Human Events, National Review Online, and many other journals. He has consulted with United States Central Command on Islam and jihad, and has discussed jihad, Islam, and terrorism at a workshop sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the German Foreign Ministry, as well as on the BBC, CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, PBS, C-Span, and Croatia National Televison (HTV), as well as on numerous radio programs including Michael Savage's Savage Nation, The Alan Colmes Show, The G. Gordon Liddy Show, The Neal Boortz Show, The Michael Medved Show, The Michael Reagan Show, The Larry Elder Show, The Barbara Simpson Show, Vatican Radio, and many others.


Q: Why should I believe what you say about Islam?
RS: Because I draw no conclusions of myself, and I do not ask anyone to take anything on my word. Pick up any of my books, and you will see that they are made up largely of quotations from Islamic jihadists and the traditional Islamic sources to which they appeal to justify violence and terrorism. I am only shedding light on what these sources say.

It is amusing to me that some people like to focus on my credentials, when I have never made a secret of the fact that most of what I know about Islam comes from personal study. It is easier for them to talk about degrees than to find any inaccuracy in my work. Yet I present the work not on the basis of my credentials, but on the basis of the evidence I bring forth; evaluate it for yourself. As this site has shown, I am always open to new information.

Q: Why have you studied Islam for so long?
RS: It has been an enduring fascination. Since childhood I have had an interest in the Muslim world, from which my family comes. When I was very young my grandparents would tell me stories about their life there, and I always heard them with great interest. When I met Muslim students as a college undergraduate I began reading and studying the Qur'an in earnest. That led to in-depth forays into tafsir (interpretations of the Qur'an), hadith (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad), and much more about Islamic theology and law. While working on my master's thesis, which dealt not with Islam but (in part) with some early Christian heretical groups, I began to study early Islamic history, since some of these groups ended up in Arabia and may have influenced Muhammad. In the intervening years I continued these studies of Islamic theology, history, and law out of personal interest.

This led to my consulting privately with some individuals and groups about Islam, but I had never intended to do such work publicly. However, after 9/11 I was asked to write Islam Unveiled in order to correct some of the misapprehensions about Islam that were widespread at that time.

Q: I've read that you are secretly a Catholic and have a religious agenda.
RS: Yes, I have been so intent on keeping this a secret that I co-wrote a book called Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics. Here again, people like to imagine that a Christian cannot write accurately about Islam, but they cannot point to any inaccuracy in my work. Nor is there any religious agenda here. I envision Jihad Watch as an opportunity for all the actual and potential victims of jihad violence and oppression -- Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, secular Muslims, atheists, whatever -- to join together to defend universal human rights. There are many things about which we all disagree, but at this point we need to unite simply in order to survive. We can sort out our disagreements later.

At this point the people most active, in various ways, in the work of Jihad Watch are a Catholic, a Jew, and an atheist. If we weren't so busy trying to awaken the Western world to the threat of violent jihad, we could walk into a bar and...(fill in your own punchline).

Q: I've read that you are a member of Opus Dei.
RS: Uh, sorry, no.

Q: I've read that you are actually Jewish.
RS: Again, no. Jihadists commonly label all their opponents as Jews. They don't seem to realize that they have offended more groups than just one. I am honored to be able to stand with Jews and others in defense of human rights against the totalitarian, supremacist jihad ideology.

Q: I've read that you are actually a Maoist.
RS: Strike three. Here are some more responses to critics.

Q: Why do so many people convert to Islam?
RS: There are many attractive elements of the religion. I think that its adamantine certainties appeal to many people who are disgusted with the current relativism and amorality of the Western world. Also there are many rich and grand aspects of Islamic history and culture which also make the religion attractive today. The global jihad against the West today also helps Islam gather converts in the West from among groups that feel themselves to be oppressed or marginalized. Conversions have been stimulated by successful, if often fanciful, Muslim efforts to present Islam as a religion free of the sins of the West -- particularly racial discrimination.

Q: Do you hate Muslims?
RS: Of course not. Islam is not a monolith, and never have I said or written anything that characterizes all Muslims as terrorist or given to violence. I am only calling attention to the roots and goals of jihad violence. Any Muslim who renounces violent jihad and dhimmitude is welcome to join in our anti-jihadist efforts. Any hate in my books comes from Muslim sources I quote, not from me. Cries of "hatred" and "bigotry" are effectively used by American Muslim advocacy groups to try to stifle the debate about the terrorist threat. But there is no substance to them.

It is not an act of hatred against Muslims to point out the depredations of jihad ideology. It is a peculiar species of displacement and projection to accuse someone who exposes the hatred of one group of hatred himself: I believe in the equality of rights and dignity of all people, and that is why I oppose the global jihad. And I think that those who make the charge know better in any case: they use the charge as a tool to frighten the credulous and politically correct away from the truth.

Am I "anti-Muslim"? Some time ago here at Jihad Watch I had an exchange with an English convert to Islam. I said: "I would like nothing better than a flowering, a renaissance, in the Muslim world, including full equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies: freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, equal employment opportunities, etc." Is all that "anti-Muslim"? My correspondent thought so. He responded: "So, you would like to see us ditch much of our religion and, thereby, become non-Muslims."

In other words, he saw a call for equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies, including freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, and equal employment opportunities, as a challenge to his religion. To the extent that they are, these facts have to be confronted by both Muslims and non-Muslims. But I make no apologies: it is not "anti-Muslim" to wish freedom of conscience and equality of rights on the Islamic world -- quite the contrary.

Q: Do you think all Muslims are terrorists?
RS: See above.

Q: Are you trying to incite anti-Muslim hatred?
RS: Certainly not. I am trying to point out the depth and extent of the hatred that is directed against the United States, because I believe that the efforts to downplay its depth and extent leave us less equipped to defend ourselves. As I said above, the focus here is on jihad; any Muslim who renounces the ideologies of jihad and dhimmitude is most welcome to join forces with us. Anyone who targets innocent Muslims in the USA is not only evil, but is playing into the hands of the jihadists who are trying to fan the flames of anti-American hatred. Also, one of the reasons why the war on terror is so important is that those who would destroy Western civilization do not believe in the principles of due process and justice that are central elements of the American system.

Q: Are you deliberately ignoring more liberal schools of thought in Islam?
RS: Certainly not. I encourage any Muslim individual or group who is willing to work publicly for the reform of the Islamic doctrines, theological tenets and laws that Islamic jihadists use to justify violence. But this must be done honestly and thoroughly, confronting the texts of the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira that are used to justify violence against unbelievers, and decisively rejecting Qur'anic literalism. Not all self-proclaimed moderates are truly moderate: many deny that these elements of Islam exist at all — hardly a promising platform for reform. It is important to make proper distinctions and speak honestly about the roots of the terrorist threat.

Q: I have read that you support forced deportation of US citizens who happen to be Muslim, harassment of law-abiding US Muslims (boycotting of their businesses, refusal to renew their cab medallions, refusal of their business permits) and other similar actions.
RS: I absolutely do not support such actions. Any Muslim who accepts the U.S. Constitution and American pluralism should act to defend the U.S. now, when it is under attack in many ways. Any Muslim who does this I count as a friend, and welcome into the U.S. I am not in favor of harassing or expelling loyal Muslims from the U.S.

Q: But I have read that you advocate making the practice of Islam "difficult" in the U.S.
RS: I would like to see the practice of violent jihad made difficult. I would like to see the spread of violence that is justified in the name of Islam made quite difficult in the U.S. and elsewhere. I would like to see efforts to impose the Sharia in the U.S. and elsewhere, however long it may take and even by peaceful means, made difficult. I would like to see the institutionalized oppression of non-Muslims and women made difficult. I am not concerned about the other aspects of Islam.

Q: Can you recommend a good English translation of the Qur'an?
RS: N. J. Dawood's is the most readable in English. However, most versions do not mark the verse numbers precisely. Some non-Muslims don't like it because he uses "God" for Allah, although since Arabic-speaking Christians use "Allah" for the God of the Bible, and have for over a millennium, this is a problem for poseurs and pseudo-scholars but is not really a serious objection to anyone who knows both languages. Also, many Muslims dislike this translation because Dawood was not a Muslim, and doesn't sugarcoat any of the passages. Two translations by Muslims, those by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, are generally reliable, although both write in a stilted, practically unreadable pseudo-King James Bible English. Of the two, Ali's contains more liberties with the text -- such as adding "(lightly)" to Sura 4:34 after the directive to husbands to beat their disobedient wives. The Arabic doesn't say to beat them lightly, it just says to beat them. Pickthall's is generally accurate.

There are other good translations. For years I have liked Arberry's for its audacious literalism and often poetic English. Compare, for example, 81:15-18: Pickthall and Arberry: Pickthall: "Oh, but I call to witness the planets, the stars which rise and set, and the close of night, and the breath of morning..." Arberry: "No! I swear by the slinkers, the runners, the sinkers, by the night swarming, by the dawn sighing..." Shades of the Symbolists. Arberry gives a hint of how the book sounds in Arabic, in which it is full of beguiling rhymes and rhythms.

Q: What can we do about this threat?
RS: Many things, but what we must do above all is remain true to our principles of freedom and equality of rights and dignity for all. These ideas and related ones are what set us apart from global jihadists. If we discard them in order to fight the jihadists, we risk erasing the distinction between the two camps.

Q: Why are you doing this?
RS: Jihad ideology is a threat to the peace and human rights of non-Muslims as well as Muslims worldwide. If it is not confronted and resisted, it will prevail.

Why Jihad Watch?

Because the West is facing a concerted effort by Islamic jihadists, the motives and goals of whom are largely ignored by the Western media, to destroy the West and bring it forcibly into the Islamic world -- and to commit violence to that end even while their overall goal remains out of reach. That effort goes under the general rubric of jihad.

Jihad (in Arabic, "struggle") is a central duty of every Muslim. Modern Muslim theologians have spoken of many things as jihads: the struggle within the soul, defending the faith from critics, supporting its growth and defense financially, even migrating to non-Muslim lands for the purpose of spreading Islam. But violent jihad is a constant of Islamic history. Many passages of the Qur'an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad are used by jihad warriors today to justify their actions and gain new recruits. No major Muslim group has ever repudiated the doctrines of armed jihad. The theology of jihad, which denies unbelievers equality of human rights and dignity, is available today for anyone with the will and means to bring it to life.

Jihad Watch is dedicated to bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology plays in the modern world, and to correcting popular misconceptions about the role of jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts. We hope to alert people of good will to the true nature of the present global conflict.

Islamophobia Industry: Robert Spencer

August 20, 2006