No, no, dont kill the infidels

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I mentioned a book I’m reading earlier. I said I was “looking forward to reading [the book] and understanding a little more about [Islam] and the culture behind it”. Sounds like a good idea, right? Islam has gotten a pretty bad rap lately because of a small but difficult-to-ignore minority, and I feel like I know nothing about the religion and the culture.

Well, it turns out I picked the wrong book. I mean, Robert Payne’s “The History of Islam” is an interesting read. But the guy makes absolutely no distinction between “This is an event which many historians agree actually happened” and “This is a conversation Muhammad had with the angel Gabriel”. None. Both are presented as fact.

The first time I really got the feeling that Robert Payne was a little wacko was page 32.

Soon there came another revelation: it was right and proper for the faithful to kill the infidels.

What? Kill the infidels? There is absolutely nothing in this book between “There is one God, and Muhammad is spreading his word” and “The faithful should kill the infidels”. I’m just not buying that. No one in their right mind looks at that and thinks, “Yeah, that’s cool.”

Later on, in the chapter on the Caliphs of Damascus, he tells of Sulayman, a guy who loved to eat. Maybe a little too much.

He posessed, like many enormously fat people, a steady driving intelligence.

Okay, that’s it. I’m going to finish this book, but I’m going to read it as what it is - a work of historical fiction. I still need a book on Islam. The real Islam. Real information on the history of the religion and the culture, not these fairy tales about decapitations and visions of angels.

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