Book Review: "A World Without Islam"

One of the sadder consequences of the near decade of war and violence that has followed the attacks of 9/11 is that so many people are convinced that we are in a clash of civilizations divided along religious fault lines. The rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric in Europe and the continued attraction of radical antinomian Islam in parts of the Muslim world attest to this situation.

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Behind the Mosque Controversy, a Rich History of Both Coexistence and Conflict

Over the past two months, the planned construction of a Muslim cultural center in the vicinity of the World Trade Center site has become the fulcrum of an acrimonious debate about religion, freedom of expression, and the place of Islam in the United States. You would have had to be living off-the-grid somewhere not to have noticed the hundreds of opinion pieces, thousands of blogs, and considerable airtime on television and radio. As characterized by Newt Gingrich, the planned center is no less than the latest chapter in a war of civilizations: "America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization."

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Enough Already with “The Trouble with Islam”

In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial titled “The Trouble with Islam,” the author regurgitated all of the familiar canards about the inherent backwardness of Islam: that the religion at core promotes violence toward unbelievers and toward women, that the Quran calls for death to the Jews, that all attempts of interfaith dialogue in the West are based on a hopeless naivete and that the violence in Iraq proves that Muslims are prone to violence.

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Peace Be Upon You

Zachary Karabell talked about his book Peace Be upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence, published by Knopf. Mr. Karabell traces the historical instances of peaceful coexistence between Muslim, Christian, and Jewish people. The author contended that throughout the past fourteen centuries the different faiths have found common ground; from peaceful debate amongst scholars in the courts of the caliphs in Baghdad to medieval Spain where Jewish sages, Muslim philosophers, and Christian monks translated the meaning of God together. The author argued that the current state of religious tensions are solvable if one studies the past. Mr. Karabell responded to questions from the audience.

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Beyond the Riots

As hard as it is to divert attention from the Cheney train-wreck this week, compared to his misuse of buckshot, the worldwide riots over the now-infmamous Danish cartoons is surely the more important story. Forget for a moment that much like the uproar over “The Satanic Verses” more than fifteen years ago, many of those protesting did not actually see the cartoons. Their publication was astutely used by extremists and by the governments of Syria and Iran to fan anti-Western flames and distract attention from their own manifold failings.

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Misunderstanding Islam

In the wake of September 11, the reading interests of the American public have changed. To a lesser extent, so have the interests of readers throughout the Western world. This may not rank as one of the more significant consequences of the attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, but it does reflect a new awareness on the part of millions of people--an awareness of just how ignorant they have been about Muslims.

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