Time to Face the Truth about Muhammad

Robert Spencer Cuts a Knife through Sugarcoating Gymnastics

The never-ending line of confrontations between Muslims and people in the West — terrorist attacks, political squabbles, and criminality — have generated more and more concerns with me over the past decade. With considerable curiosity, I have sought to examine this topic carefully, from taking a course at the University of Waikato in New Zealand to inviting a public debate and doing my own reading.


Robert Spencer speaks clearly about the life of Muhammad’s bizarre and violent actions, and he has the courage to offer practical responses. (Amazon)

My initial view was like that of my peers, particularly those concerned with foreign-relations blowback: the threat comes only from misinformed radicals (Islamists) who pervert the religion, particularly those provoked by military intervention from the United States and her allies. In fact, I had Sarah/Amy Harvard on my radio show to make that point, and she affirmed that white nationalists have as much claim to Christianity as Islamists do to Islam.

I can no longer accept such a position, and I encourage people to look into this matter for themselves. Many insights and observations have nudged me towards the belief that Islam is inherently problematic, and I now see the firm opposition to free speech among even “moderate” Muslims living in the West as a thin end of a dangerous wedge — so much so that it has caused me to question and add provisos to my strong advocacy of open immigration. While writing this is sure to generate enemies, we should speak frankly about Islam and dispense with the naïve “religion of peace” moniker. Ignoring it or downplaying its authoritarian and political elements will not make the problem go away.

In particular, the work of Wafa Sultan of Syria caught my attention and informed me. She fled her native country of Syria for the United States, after Muslims murdered her medical professor as he was teaching the class. Her testimony offers two key assertions: (1) jihadis not only brutally oppose the West, but also moderates who stray from a literal or direct application of the religion’s key texts, and (2) Muhammad himself is the problem, the very founder and highest role model of the religion. (Here is one of her presentations, a tearjerker.)

These insights motivated me to go and examine the prophet, as opposed to the media debates, and read The Truth about Muhammad (224 pages, 2006) by Robert Spencer. For those willing to put in a little time and learn the biography of Muhammad, Spencer’s book is easy to read and understand. Further, despite the visceral reaction from some reviewers, he addresses the topic in an evenhanded manner, seeking to be generous and offer accounts from Muhammad defenders when possible.

As Wafa says, Muhammad’s life story “is very traumatizing,” and for the unacquainted, hard to believe. From sustaining himself and his religion as a thief and bandit on the trade routes near Medina to consummating a “marriage” to a woman (Safiyya bint Huyayy) right after killing her husband and male relatives, it is enough to make one sick — not to mention his child bride and the mass murder of 600-900 Banu Qurayzah Jews.

Of course, these accounts fall on censored or deaf ears among the faithful. They are wedded to their prophet, and it will take a lot to make anyone let go of a religion, particularly when it is dangerous to do so. Instead, my desire is to encourage people outside the religion and on the fringes to form their own opinions by actually looking at the life of Muhammad.

For those who accept the invitation, in addition to Spencer’s excellent introduction, Bernard Lewis offers a handy follow-up and overview of how Islam evolved into its modern form in The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror (read my review here).

Fergus Hodgson About Fergus Hodgson

Fergus Hodgson is an economic consultant, financial editor, athlete, and traveler. He holds degrees in economics, finance, and political science from the United States and New Zealand, and he has lived in eight countries. Follow @FergHodgson.

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