Whitewash of Sharia Climbs the Bestseller Lists


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I first became aware of Heaven on Earth, Sadakat Kadri’s affectionate account of sharia law, a couple of weeks ago, when it received a glowing review in the New York Times.  A cursory check of other newspaper websites quickly turned up several other notices, most of them equally enthusiastic.  And a look at Amazon showed, depressingly, that Kadri’s book is a top seller.  The British edition, published by Bodley Head, a division of Random House, is subtitled A Journey through Shari’a Law; the American edition, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, carries a longer, more evocative subtitle: A Journey Through Shari’a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World.

That atmosphere-heavy American subtitle captures something important that should be mentioned at the outset.  It is this: that we are living in a time when writers like Karen Armstrong, while pretending to tell us everything we need to know about Islam, have in fact perfected the art of prettifying it beyond recognition.  They routinely either soft-pedal or thoroughly avoid the more chilling facts about the religion, or write about them in a dispassionate, distanced prose that is deliberately designed not to capture the horror lurking behind the words.  They glide past acts of violence committed by Muslims while paying close, clinical attention to acts of violence directed against Muslims.  They demonize Islam’s critics while employing charming, humanizing details to make even the most brutal Islamic figures sympathetic.  And they pour out reams of pseudo-poetic language about exotic sights, tastes, and smells, as if trying to cover the stench of a murder victim’s corpse with a couple of gallons of perfume.

Case in point: a three-part 2006 series of New York Times articles about an imam in Brooklyn for which reporter Andrea Elliott won a Pulitzer Prize.  It opened this way: “The imam begins his trek before dawn, his long robe billowing like a ghost through empty streets.  In this dark, quiet hour, his thoughts sometimes drift back to the Egyptian farming village where he was born.”  Readers who smelled a rat were obliged to read column after column of numbingly adorable personal details about the imam before getting to the brief tidbits about his actual beliefs, which, although couched in the most euphemistic language imaginable, gave away the fact that he was not the genial, open-minded bridge-builder Elliott wanted us to think he was, but an uncompromising adherent of hard-line sharia law.

Kadri has clearly been an attentive student of the Karen Armstrong/Andrea Elliott school of prose.  “I reached the shrine long after dusk,” he tells us on his first page, “and its neem tree glades were pulsating to the drums and accordions of an ululating troupe of musicians.”

Who is Kadri?  I have never heard of him before.  (But he’s heard of me: I was surprised to discover a half-page or so of mendacious invective directed at me toward the end of his book.)  The dust jacket tells us that he is a half-Finnish, half-Pakistani Londoner who studied at Cambridge and Harvard Law and is “qualified as a barrister and New York attorney.”  He is also a believing Muslim who presents the tale of Allah’s revelations to Muhammed as if it were historical fact.  In his prologue, he provides the assurance (directed, presumably, at any violence-prone coreligionists of his who might happen to be on the lookout for heterodoxy) that he “does not intend at any point to challenge the sacred stature of the Prophet Muhammad, the self-evident appeal of Islam, or the almightiness of God.”

Well, he certainly keeps that promise.  Apropos of Allah’s revelations, Kadri writes that “the channel of communication that had opened between Muhammed and God would transform the world.  Thousands of lines of divine wisdom would reach him from the heavens over the next two decades, transmitted by a disembodied voice or heralded by a bell, and as he fell entranced and moved his lips to memorize God’s words, he would see far beyond the visible world, far into heaven and deep into hell.”  As Kadri sums it up: Muhammed “had more access to eternal wisdom than any other human being who had lived.”  Anyone who wrote like this about, say, Moses or Jesus and took his manuscript to the London branch of Random House or to Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York would be instructed condescendingly to try an evangelical publisher.  But Islam is, needless to say, different.

Kadri makes it clear that Muhammed was not just a recipient of divine revelation; he was also, in one way after another, the ideal man: “No one has ever denied that Muhammed was tall, dark-eyed, handsome, fragrant, lustrous, well-mannered, softly spoken, modest, firm of handshake and purposeful of stride,” writes Kadri.  For him, it’s a given that Muhammed was a paragon of human virtue, the ultimate ethical and spiritual teacher, God’s final prophet.  “[N]o one would ever doubt Muhammed’s eloquence,” Kadri asserts.  He speaks unblushingly of Muhammed’s “solid moral arguments.”  He even dares to credit Muhammed with teaching sexual equality – never mind that the Koran teaches comprehensive sexual inequality.  (With lawyerly deftness, Kadri doesn’t speak of “sexual equality” but instead uses the term “morally equal,” which makes less sense the longer you look at it.)

One question about Muhammed that Kadri does address – kind of – is the one about his marriage to nine-year-old Aisha.  While accepting every detail of Muhammed’s divine revelations as historical fact, Kadri refuses to accept that Aisha was nine when the prophet married her, and suggests, without a hint of supporting evidence or argument, that historians “might have been exaggerating her youth to exclude any doubt about her virginity.”

Unsurprisingly, Kadri evinces as much reverence for the Koran as he does for the Prophet.  “Not for nothing,” he gushes, “is its recital said to have stopped jinns in their tracks and melted the hardest of pagan hearts.”  The Koran is without blemish, he informs us, although “its perfection was not universally appreciated when it first appeared.”  But is he interested in close reading?  Hardly.  Want a frank discussion of all those passages that deliciously imagine an eternity of hellfire for infidels?  Don’t look for them here (although Kadri does go out of his way to tell us that two Koran verses “promise a reward in the afterlife to good Jews and Christians”).

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  • ProgDestroyer

    As usual Bruce nails the islamist's ongoing war of deception. I can only take exception with one issue in the article and that is the identification of what Islam is. I don't believe Islam is a religion at all, but is rather a political philosophy and a virulent totalitarian one at that. It no longer shocks me to see how islam shares all of the same pathologies and tactics that the socialist crowd utilizes. Both must claim to be the opposite of what those of us liberty loving types see them as. It is always a psychological warfare operation with these two ideologies. What is righteous is evil and what is moral is immoral and so on. Their reaction to being confronted by truth is telling as to what side they truly are on.

  • oldtimer

    I don't know who said it but it seems to be true, if you repeat a lie enough it becomes truth. Don't let this happen.
    Sharia is evil…….

    • curmudgeon

      stalin

  • MikeWood

    I just don't know how we can keep pace with the industrialised scale of lying from these people. I know some of these bien-pensant liberals and they are only too happy to swallow this kind of guff. Try telling them any hard truths about this toxic religion and they accuse you of being divisive.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Alas, Heaven and Earth isn’t the basis for an informed debate about anything – it’s yet more pretty, perfumed propaganda of the Karen Armstrong variety, and the generous welcome it’s received in the old media provides a dispiriting reminder of the Western cultural elite’s enduring determination not to encourage informed, guileless debate on these matters.

    In other words, it is taqiyya meant to dupe gullible useful idiots.

  • Schlomotion

    This is simply Jews and Muslims brawling their way through the Occult Book Store. No plane of thought, no empty trash can lid can be free of the Jews vs Muslims War. In this installment, it's Thomas Cahill's wannabe slugging it out against Sadakat Kadri. Whose gifts will be accepted next to the joop incense, the camel crap, and the lunar calendars? Will it be Judaica, or Arabica? Whose law will be more benign and more amusing to curl up with in the cafe? Halachic or Sharia? Whose fruitiness and macrame will we accept? Will it be snowflakes or arabesques? The patchouli counter paperback palisades are built. The Jews have their menorah gun. The Muslims are wheeling in their trivet trebuchet.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Schlock, You forgot it is also

      Muslims .vs. Christians
      Muslims .vs. Hindus
      Muslims .vs. Buddhists
      Muslims .vs. Bahais
      Muslims .vs. Muslims (sunni .vs. shiite)

      Happy Eternal Nakba!

    • Zionista

      you've been eating the cheap acid again shlo – why do you always have to bore us with your bad trips? You must know by now that you are a bore and a drag – what a loser combo.

      • Schlomotion

        You need to keep practicing. You don't sound enough like Sarah Jessica Parker yet.

  • g_jochnowitz

    The answer to Kadri's book is found in Ibn Warraq's WHY I AM NOT A MUSLIM.

  • steven L

    Islam a believe, Sharia a tool. Combined: a WMD through enslavement of humanity.

  • curmudgeon

    dude, when you equate jews with muslims, you are equating monstrous evil with silly stiupidity. it is you who are the self declared fool.

    • Ray Olson

      Jews are "monstrous evil"? Muslims are "silly stiupidity [sic]"? Are you as rabidly bigoted as such characterizations suggest?

      • curmudgeon

        actually, i just wrote that to equate jews and islam is to equate monstrous evil with silly stupidity. you are the one that decided that it was the jews that are the monstrous evil. do the basic math, fool. if a=b, then b=a. it isnt difficult. the most predictable thing about liberals is that they are eager to call anyone else "rabidly bigoted", or nazi, or racist. they dont call people communists, though, because they really dont see anything wrong with that. if all a liberal has to do to justify (in his own small mind) calling someone "rabidly bigoted" is to misinterpret a statement, then that statement is sure to be misinterpreted. if you want to argue against the observation that islam is a monstrous evil, go ahead. you might start by trying to convince the turkish armenians. or the turkish greeks. or the turkish assyrians. it will be a hard sell. the religion of peace murdered them all.

        • http://www.quotingislam.blogspot.com traeh

          To say that the Jews are "silly stupidity" is serious stupidity.

  • Ghostwriter

    Here's some uncomfortable facts for people like Schlomotion about sharia law:

    1.If a woman is raped,she needs the testimony of four male witnesses to the rape. Otherwise,she's seen as an adulterer and then sentenced to be stoned to death.
    2.Sharia law isn't exactly tolerant of Christians and Jews. Sharia makes it difficult for them to worship the way they want to or even to build a new church or synagogue or even REPAIR them.
    3.If you criticize Islam,it's put on the same level as blasphemy and the person responsible for it is to be killed.

    Those are just some of the ways that sharia law is bad and must not be allowed to take root in any civilized country.

    • Schlomotion

      I don't care because:

      1) I don't live in a Muslim country with Muslim rapists.
      2) I am not a Christian or a Jew trying to build a Cathedral or Synagogue in Mecca.
      3) I can criticize religions without fear of bring killed by a Muslim.

      I don't need a Jewish mafia protecting me from an influx of Islamic culture. It's a non-issue.

      • curmudgeon

        i do care about sharia taking root in any civilized country because:
        1) i dont live in a muslim country, and i want to keep it that way.
        2)i am not a christian or jew trying to build a cathedral or synagogue in mecca, and i dont want to be forced to build a mosque anywhere.
        3) i too can criticize infidel religions without fear of being killed by a muslim (for criticizing the religion), but i dam well would not publicly criticize islam, because they do kill people for "blasphemy".

        regarding protection by a jewish mafia from the influx of islamic "culture", i welcome any help we can get. my own observation is that the jews are aiding and abetting the muslims in their conquest of our country.

        • Schlomotion

          "my own observation is that the jews are aiding and abetting the muslims in their conquest of our country."
          I'd like to hear more about this opinion.

          • curmudgeon

            i have noticed that our jews did herd to the polls to vote for an america hating muslim sympathizer. jews are not stupid, and they are not uneducated. they dam well knew they were voting to destroy america, but their hate for america overrides their fear of islam. perhaps you werent aware that the atomic bomb spies were jews. now that the soviet union has failed to defeat america, islam is the next best ally. you were too buzy picking nits here to read american thinker, which published an article yesterday, by Charles Jacobs & Ilya Feoktistov, describing how the ADL( note for the ignorant–fdss ADL is antidefamation league–thats jews) is aiding and abetting islam in our country. but dont take my word for it. read the article.

            Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/04/the_adl_mu

          • http://www.quotingislam.blogspot.com traeh

            Schlomotion and curmudgeon, how are your Nazi memorabilia collections coming along?

          • Schlomotion

            Why don't you address it, Traeh? People hate them some Obama on this website. What about the many many many many Jews who voted for Obama and worked in his administration?

          • curmudgeon

            the comment was too true for the administrator. the administrator will have to deal with our islamic enemies too, after the administrator has furthered the cause of islamic jihad. i will try again, and try to avoid the acute sensibilities of the administrator, who doesnt like the truth. the adl has endorsed the idea that "islamophobia" is rampant in america. the adl is more concerned with the few, few, few incidences of anti-islamic "hate" crimes, most of which are actually staged by muslims, than the real hate crimes against jews, most of which are committed by muslims. so the adl and islam join up to defeat america. so tell me. why is my disdain for islamophilic traitorous jews such a bad thing?

          • Schlomotion

            I agree! We must rid our country of the backsliders who have opened the door to the Saracens! For my next witness, I call his excellency, Tomás de Torquemada!

          • hammer of toures

            hello, I am curious if you hate the pro israel pro america jews (like pamela geller) as well as the self hating liberal jew douchebags like noam chomsky and george soros that got the fraud in chief elected to the most powerful office in the world. in my opinion they are completely different entities. if you are pro israel, it is impossible to be pro islam, period.

    • Ghostwriter

      Oh great! Another anti-semite just crawled out from the ooze to spread his anti-semitic poison everywhere. We've already got more than our share of these people on this website. We don't need any more.

      • Schlomotion

        Don't you want to address the issue that many many mannnnnnnny Jews voted for the much hated, alleged Muslim terrorist Obama?

  • Dispozadaburka

    Karen Armstong can breast feed her muslim male coworkers with the best of them!

  • Ray Olson

    A worthy polemical protest, Bruce. It is virtually impossible to find anyone in the U.S. media who will address the scary parts of the Qu'ran and the sadistic injustices that sharia not merely allows but commands. I recently reviewed a new book by Martha Nussbaum that aims to show how to overcome prejudice against Muslims. In prescribing for that goal, she avoids any consideration of certain passages in the Qu'ran and the haddith and certain practices licensed by sharia or commonly followed by those who justify themselves in Islamic terms that make so many wary of Islam. Her advice is unexceptionable as far as it goes, but she might as well be talking about anti-Chinese, anti-Jewish, anti-French, etc., prejudice. Anyone hoping for full and frank discussion of anti-Muslim prejudice is at best only partially answered by her arguments.

  • GuyMacher

    If you just remember that Islam is pure evil and that Muslims lie, you will never be suckered into believing Islam has any place in civilized countries.
    Wonderfully written review of a deceitful book.