Whitewash of Sharia Climbs the Bestseller Lists

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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No, when writing about the Koran, Kadri knows it’s best to keep it as vague as possible, pouring out the usual words of hyberbolic praise (sublimemystery, magnificence, etc.).  And, of course, to quote from it out of context.  Kadri, like many others before him, cites – not once but twice – the line from the Koran to the effect that killing one person is tantamount to killing “all humanity.”  In neither case does he provide the context.  The actual verse (5:32) reads as follows: “We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”  First, the verse clearly applies to Jews, not Muslims; and second, even if you do interpret it as also applying to Muslims, it provides a loophole (you can kill people for “spreading mischief”) that’s as wide as a barn door.  The fact that propagandists for Islam have made a habit of quoting this line out of context to demonstrate Islam’s purported peacefulness only underscores the fact that in the whole of the Koran there’s not really anything particularly peaceable.

Kadri keeps his rose-colored glasses on when he moves beyond Muhammed and the Koran to the history of Islam and the codification and enforcement of Islamic law.  “[T]here is little doubt about the relatively benign nature of Muslim rule,” he blithely declares.  Instead of serving up an honest account of the less-than-benign means by which Muhammed and his successors spread their religion, Kadri finds obscure straw men to knock down for their foolish and unjustified charges about the Islamic conquests – for example, an early medieval bishop who blamed Muslims for burning down the library at Alexandria (which, needless to say, was destroyed centuries before Muhammed).  To be sure, while Kadri pretty much glides past the Muslim conquests with his eyes closed, he provides graphic close-ups of the depredations of the Crusaders and of Genghis Khan.  Repeatedly, we see Muslims depicted as victims of bloodthirsty bullies – rarely as bloodthirsty bullies themselves.  For good measure, Kadri argues that the laws of the British Empire were more backward than Islamic law, and describes both the Crusades and the founding of Israel – but, again, not the Muslim conquests – as “land grab[s].”

This book’s subtitle describes it a “journey” rather than an “argument,” but Kadri has a point to make – namely, that while the text of the Koran is flawless and immutable, its interpretation by Islamic scholars, and its application by Islamic judges, have varied from place to place and era to era.  He distinguishes between sharia, which is an eternal element of Muhammed’s revelation, and fiqh, which is the practical attempt to codify and apply God’s law on earth.  He wants us to understand that whenever and wherever Islam has seemed to be, say, merciless and unjust, it has never been Islam itself that is the problem – if, indeed, there really is a problem – but, rather, the failure of its human interpreters to reflect Allah’s perfection.  Kadri further argues that many injustices in the Muslim world are the work not of sincerely pious Muslims but of non-believers who are using Islam as a justification for their own savagery.  He also argues that cruel governments “that purport today to be eternally Islamic are creatures of modernity.”  (No, they’re modern-day reactions to modernity by people devoted to barbaric seventh-century laws.)  “It was not God,” Kadri writes, “who decided to treat rape victims as capital offenders and pregnancies as confessions: it was men.”  Kadri’s determination to shield Islam from blame for anything at all is palpable.

Toward the end of his book, Kadri recounts his journeys in the Muslim world, where he explores – and systematically whitewashes the reality of – Islamic law in practice.  Stunningly, he holds up Iran as a case of “Islamic tolerance,” citing the presence in that country of Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians.  (He doesn’t mention that the numbers of all these groups in Iran have dwindled steadily since the Islamic revolution.)  And he speaks of “Pakistan’s supposed Islamisation,” denying flat-out that it has been sinking for a long time into a swamp of Koranic backwardness.  (I would encourage any reader who is tempted to buy Kadri’s picture of Pakistan to read a few articles by Rooshanie Ejaz at rights.no.)  Kadri is a perfect illustration of the fact that the mischief of Islam cannot be cured simply by Western education; on the contrary, such education, in cases such as his, only provides the true Islamic believer with a position from which to spread his slick misinformation and a refined-sounding language in which to do it effectively.

If lawyer Kadri is so enamored of Islam, one gathers, at least one reason is that Islam’s all about law.  He writes with a devoted attorney’s ardor about the arcane, nuanced interpretive logic that led this or that Islamic jurist to issue a certain ruling: to him, it can seem, the fact that the ruling might have led to the torture and execution of people who hadn’t really done anything you or I would consider wrong is almost beside the point, sub specie aeternitas and all that.  He is, to put it another way, altogether too inclined to concern himself with sharia as a phenomenon of the classroom and the courtroom, the mosque and the library, and to be less concerned than one might expect with its horrific effects over the centuries in hundreds of millions of Muslim public squares and Muslim homes.

Who is buying this book?  I picture it being snapped up by bien pensant types in London and New York bookstores – the contemporary equivalents of Leonard Bernstein and his “radical chic” crowd.  Other writers offer the uneasy, multiculturalism-challenging truth about Islam and sharia; Kadri gives these people exactly what they want.  He has certainly given the reviewers for many of the “best” papers what they want.  In the New York Times, Dwight Garner calls Heaven and Earth “thorough and admirable…an urgent appeal for mutual understanding.”  In the Guardian, Aatish Taseer judges it “first-rate (though he acknowledges, at least, that Kadri’s“people…can sometimes feel like symbols, as if they are standing in for grander, more abstract theories about law and Islamic tradition”).  And in the Spectator, of all places, James Mather hails the book for “offer[ing]the basis of a more informed debate” about sharia.  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.

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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.