Islam: What the West Needs to Know. Prior to finding out I can watch it on YouTube for free I rented it for $3 dollars. How I wish I could get that three bucks back!
The other documentary I watched was an excellent look at the Qur'an, Muslims, and Islam. It is magnitudes more objective (and entertaining) than Islam: What the West Needs to Know. This one is called Inside the Koran: A Journey into the Heart of Islam. Unlike What the West Needs to Know, Inside the Koran depicts moderate, extremist, and all other points of view, and shows the viewer how the majority of Muslims view the Qur'an. Quite frankly, most Muslims view the Qur'an much like Christians view the Bible: as one of the most beautiful books ever written, full of wisdom, compassion and love. Many don't even seem to be aware that it demeans women or endorses violence. Something that was extremely troubling for me, however, was the filming of a girl being held down and being subject to genital mutilation. It was so sickening and sad to watch, hearing the girl crying and her mother telling her that this is normal and that it won't hurt. The documentary went on to get opinions of different Muslims about how they believe or do not believe the Qur'an sanctions such practices. I do not recall reading anything in the Qur'an about that at all. From what I have read it has more to do with Middle Eastern culture than the religion of Islam.
Islam: What the West Needs to Know featured a few of the most well-known anti-Muslim Christian and Jewish bigots: Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, Bat Ye'or, Abdullah Al-Araby, and Walid Shoebat (interesting thing about Shoebat, this fraud has been exposed a long time ago). During the reading I did one of the books was The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, by Nathan Lean. In it he provides some interesting background about Spencer who he says has only a “master's degree in religion,” and has no “formal training” on the subject of Islam, and yet he and his supporters call him a “leading scholar.” But something that I found fascinating about the “Islamophobia industry” is how it is backed by right-wing, pro-Israel supporters. According to Lean, part of the reason for all of this anti-Muslim propaganda is to incite hatred towards Muslims, thus allowing Israel's policies of mass murder and further theft of land to take place with as little protest as possible. If everyone hates Muslims, who cares what happens to the Palestinians? is the idea. I'm not sure if that is true or not, but the logic fits.
In the book Lean cites a 2003 interview of Spencer's with the Zenit Daily Dispatch wherein he discusses his book Inside Islam. While on his website he claims that he has “no religious agenda” this interview proves otherwise. In the 2003 interview Spencer says in response to two questions,
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
Spencer: Daniel and I wrote this book in order to help Catholics become informed about Islam — to clear away common misunderstandings and distortions and to give Catholics an accurate and complete introduction to the Islamic faith and the challenges it poses to Christians.
Q: Why is it important for Catholics to understand Islam?
Spencer: Islam increasingly poses a challenge to the Church and every Christian. By most accounts, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Even if he or she never meets a Muslim, much less proclaims the Gospel to one, it is every Christian's duty to become informed about Islam since that faith is the Church's chief and most energetic present-day rival for souls. (emphasis mine in bold and italics)
I found this revelation fascinating. It provides an answer to the question of why FOX News and all of these right-wingers bash Muslims and the religion of Islam every chance they get. Prior to reading this book I thought it just had everything to do with pure bigotry and racism. Who knew there was actually an internal logic to all of this? But this makes me wonder even more what drives atheists and other so-called “liberals” to spout the same hate-filled bigotry and misinformation as Spencer and his cronies? It certainly doesn't have anything to do with saving souls. Is Sam Harris and some other “liberal” anti-Muslims Jewish by heritage? Maybe they feel some kind of connection with the state of Israel? Or perhaps they just have a hatred of Muslims because they know someone who is threatened by Islamic fanatics and because of this reasonable anger they project that anger at innocent Muslims, even if 99% of all Muslims have never even harmed, much less threatened their loved ones? If so, the reason for their own hatred would be pure bigotry. It is perfectly reasonable and justifiable to hate someone who is threatening loved ones, but to expand your hatred to everyone who make up the same minority group is simply bigotry.
Wow. It appears I've gone off on a bit of a tangent. About that documentary....
I did not cite the documentary directly in my paper, but I do cover most of the same ground as the film, exposing a lot of the propaganda used by both the right and the left about Muslims and Islam. One thing I found egregious, though I did not address it in the paper, is the claim that the Qur'an commands Muslims to lie and deceive others. Robert Spencer says (at approx. 1:01:38), “When one is under pressure, one may lie in order to protect the religion. This is taught in the Qur'an Chapter 3 verse 28, Chapter 16, verse 106.” Let's look up these verses, shall we?
3:28: “Let not the Believers take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than Believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that you may guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (to remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.”
This verse says not a thing about lying. It is referring to being cautious around non-believers, and befriending only other Muslims.
16:106: “Anyone who, after accepting Faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, - except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, - on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.”
This verse is actually about lying, but for what purpose? Only in cases where one is threatened with death or violence to denounce their religion. The Qur'an tells Muslims they can lie to protect their lives from threats of violence. That is an enormous distortion of the text. Makes you wonder... if Spencer were the expert he says he is don't you think he'd be more knowledgeable about the Qur'an?
Other than numerous inaccuracies, this documentary was so poorly produced and so incredibly boring....I considered committing Seppuku. Seriously, though, it was mind-numbingly boring, and that wasn't just my take on it. Just read the snippets from some of the reviews in the Wikipedia article.
I hope everyone had a nice weekend. I was reading and writing all weekend but soon I shall be free!