Blogging the Qur’an

posted at 9:00 am on May 27, 2007 by Robert Spencer

To understand the motives and goals of Islamic jihad terrorists, one good place to start might be to explore what they themselves say about why they’re doing what they’re doing, and what they want. That in turn will lead you to the Qur’an (or Koran), the Islamic holy book. The jihadists quote it frequently and portray themselves as those who are following “pure Islam,” the genuine article as it is taught in the Qur’an and Islamic tradition. So in the course of my work explaining the jihadists’ objectives, I’ve quoted the Qur’an a great deal – and hardly a day goes by without my being accused of “cherry-picking” violent passages, and quoting them “out of context.” Meanwhile, the Council on American Islamic Relations and other Muslim groups say that in order to understand the true, peaceful Islam, we should read the Qur’an.

So over the course of the next few months, I’m going to read it, and discuss it in a series of columns. All of it. Not “cherry-picked” or “out of context.” The whole thing, beginning to end. Some of you may be familiar with David Plotz’s series on Slate, “Blogging the Bible.” This series will be similar to that one, but rather than just write about what I think or feel about a certain passage, I will, unlike Plotz, refer to commentaries – all Muslim ones – on the Qur’an. I’ll try to explain how mainstream Muslims who study the Qur’an will understand any given passage, and what its import might be for non-Muslims.

You’ll need a Qur’an. Here is a good Arabic/English text. In traditional Islamic theology, the Qur’an is essentially and inherently an “Arabic Qur’an” (as the Qur’an describes itself repeatedly: see 12:2; 20:113; 39:28; 41:3; 41:44; 42:7; and 43:3). Its meaning can be rendered in other languages, but those translations are not the Qur’an, which when no longer in Arabic is no longer itself. Some Muslim scholars even claim that the Qur’an cannot be fully understood except in Arabic, but the blizzard of translations made by Muslims for Muslims who don’t speak Arabic (who are the great majority around the world today) as well as to proselytize among non-Muslims belies that claim. Here are two popular Muslim translations, those of Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, along with a third by M. H. Shakir. Here is another popular translation, that of Muhammad Asad. And here is an omnibus of ten Qur’an translations.

The Qur’an is, according to classic Islamic thought, a perfect copy of a book that has existed eternally with Allah, the one true God, in Heaven: “it is a transcript of the eternal book [in Arabic, “mother of the book”] in Our keeping, sublime, and full of wisdom” (43:4). The angel Gabriel revealed it in sections to Muhammad (570-632), an Arabian merchant. Like Jesus, Muhammad left the written recording of his messages to others. Unlike Jesus, Muhammad did not originate his message, but only served as its conduit. The Qur’an is for Muslims the pure Word of Allah. They point to its poetic character as proof that it did not originate with Muhammad, whom they say was illiterate, but with the Almighty, who dictated every word. The average Muslim believes that everything in the book is absolutely true and that its message is applicable in all times and places.

This is a stronger claim than Christians make for the Bible. When Christians of whatever tradition say that the Bible is God’s Word, they don’t mean that God spoke it word-for-word and that it’s free of all human agency — instead, there is the idea of “inspiration,” that God breathed through human authors, working through their human knowledge to communicate what he wished to. But for Muslims, the Qur’an is more than inspired. There is not and could not be a passage in the Qur’an like I Corinthians 1:14-17 in the New Testament, where Paul says: “I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius; lest any one should say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any one else.)” Paul’s faulty memory demonstrates the human element of the New Testament, which for Christians does not negate, but exists alongside the texts’ inspired character. But in the Qur’an, Allah is the only speaker throughout (with a few notable exceptions). There is no human element. The book is the pure and unadulterated divine word.

Allah himself tells him this, in the Qur’an itself: “This is a mighty scripture. Falsehood cannot reach it from before or from behind” (41:41-2). It is “free from any flaw” (39:28). In short, “it is the indubitable truth” (69:51). Allah, speaking in a royal plural that does not, according to Muslim theologians, compromise his absolute unity, proclaims that “it was We that revealed the Koran, and shall Ourself preserve it” (15:9). But reading the Qur’an is not always easy. Since so much of it consists of Allah speaking with Muhammad, it is often rather like listening in on a conversation between two people you don’t know, talking about events with which you were uninvolved. Even though a surprisingly large amount of what the Qur’an says is said more than once, still often the reader can’t figure out what’s being said, or why, without reference to Muslim tradition.

Also, it has no overarching narrative unity, although there are smaller narrative units within many chapters. With the exception of the brief first chapter (sura), its 114 chapters are arranged from the longest to the shortest. In the longer chapters, stories are told, laws are given, and warnings to unbelievers are issued, but in them and throughout the book, there is no chronological or narrative continuity. The shorter suras, meanwhile, particularly those near the end of the book that run only a few lines, are poetic and arresting warnings of the impending divine judgment. When I first read the Qur’an and began studying Islam in late 1980 and early 1981, those poetic suras captured my imagination to the extent that I continued reading deeply into other Islamic texts.

I’ll refer to Islamic traditions when necessary, as well as to traditional commentaries, to shed light on various passages. And by the end of this journey, I believe we will see more clearly what makes the jihadists tick – and also perhaps understand what we can and must do to resist them.

This will be a weekly feature — to be posted every Sunday at Hot Air — with within-post updates as warranted. I intend this to be a participatory exploration of the Qur’an — a two-way conversation. Thus I welcome feedback and criticism in the comments section, in e-mail correspondence, and on other blogs, and will answer questions and respond to the most thoughtful comments, criticism, and challenges.

Next week: chapter one, the Fatiha, the most important prayer in Islam.


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I read Jihad Watch and its companion Dhimmi Watch regularly along with Hotair, Free Republic, Gates of Vienna, Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, Ynet, JPost, Listen to Shire network news, etc. Given the shear volume of bad news about the world wide Jihad its, well, overwhelming. While there are some very brave moderate Muslims out there, and you know many of them personally, the vast majority is rendering the moderate Muslims irrelevant by their silence, as the peace loving Germans did pre WW-2, and it seems the clock is ticking.

You say often that the moderates have not yet come up with an effective counter to the Jihadist interpretation within the Koranic texts. Is there, given its content, (and that of the Sura, Hadith, etc.) a solid argument that can be made?

P. James Moriarty on May 27, 2007 at 9:05 AM

PJM:

Briefly, as I must run out for awhile — yes and no. The prophetic career of Muhammad falls into two halves, the Meccan period (the first 13 years) and the Medinan period (the last 10). Most of the more belligerent material comes from the Medinan period, which in mainstream Islam is considered to take precedence over the Meccan, as it came chronologically later and is considered to supersede what is earlier (see Qur’an 2:106). So a case could theoretically be made that the Meccan material must supersede the Medinan, but it would be difficult to mount and sustain the argument that what Muhammad did later must be set aside in favor of what he did earlier.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 9:10 AM

Hmmm, yeah, yes and no. It sound like it would be a particularly weak argument given the propencity of the established culture is to kill those who make the argument.

Thank you very much for the response, its an honour sir.

P. James Moriarty on May 27, 2007 at 9:15 AM

Thanks Robert and Hot Air for this great opportunity. I look forward to the weeks to come.

Canadian Infidel on May 27, 2007 at 9:22 AM

Thank you Robert for your time and thank you HotAir for giving us the chance to ask questions of one of our favorite and most important authors. What an honor!

Robert, I hope this won’t be Off Topic, but in your great book “The P.I.G. to Islam and the Crusades” you talk about how Islam spread by force, but there’s no chronological order to where and when. If possible, could you please list all the countries (or city-states) that where attacked and conquered by muslim armies, in order from the Quraysh tribe to the Gates of Vienna? That would help us understand how islam physically spread out from Arabia to where it is today. I apologize if that’s a lot to ask of your busy schedule. Thank you sir.

Tony737 on May 27, 2007 at 10:18 AM

Tony737:

Here’s an excellent summary chronology of the history and expansion of Islam, including battles, both major and minor, while you’re waiting for Robert’s response.

flipflop on May 27, 2007 at 10:49 AM

Mr. Spencer, I get your highlights by email and read your site everyday. I started my second trip to Iraq and while there started asking some locals about the points you raise… they don’t deny it. (though some just shug and say “yea it says that… but my family doesn’t believe in it”). Thank you for what you do and thank you to the HotAir crew for allowing Mr. Spencer to enlighten us all.

BadBrad on May 27, 2007 at 10:52 AM

This is a pleasant surprise for a Sunday morning! I’m looking forward to the series.

I hope everyone – especially the DNC – reads next week’s column on the Fatiha so we don’t see another nauseating episode like this again.

forest on May 27, 2007 at 11:20 AM

The chronology is annoying in the Koran. I gave up trying to figure out which part goes where. I hope there are estimations of where each bit goes in relation to real world happenings.

Krydor on May 27, 2007 at 12:03 PM

Thank you Mr. Spencer and Hot Air for this great opportunity! I don’t know a lot about the Muslim religion, just enough to be worried about the extreme adherents. I do have a question about something you wrote above…

The Qur’an is for Muslims the pure Word of Allah. They point to its poetic character as proof that it did not originate with Muhammad, whom they say was illiterate, but with the Almighty, who dictated every word.

Do we know who actually wrote down Allah’s words, was it Muhammad, even though he was illiterate.? Or were there other writers?

Thank you!

4shoes on May 27, 2007 at 12:06 PM

HA is doing what the drive-by media should be doing. Great work!

Mojave Mark on May 27, 2007 at 12:08 PM

Hey, thanks Flipper! I appreciate your help :-)

Tony737 on May 27, 2007 at 12:54 PM

This is going to be a very significant series of articles. Just one great benefit will be to be able to refer to this series to respond to the “cherry-picking” argument. I wonder – after you take out all the incitements to do harm to others from the Koran, is there anything left? Soon after 9-11, there was a TV special in which many celebrities spoke to encourage the nation after the attack. I once talked to one of the producers of that TV special. He told me that his staff had combed through the Koran, looking for expressions in favor of peace and love — and couldn’t find any.

Vik_R on May 27, 2007 at 1:14 PM

PJM:

Yes, it is a weak argument, and that is one principal reason why it has not been successfully made.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 1:32 PM

Tony737 and Flipflop:

That’s a good chronology.

Here is one with some more detail: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/history/chronology/

And a good summary book for an overview of the history of jihad conquest is Paul Fregosi’s book “Jihad,” which suffers only from its complete lack of citation.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 1:34 PM

BadBrad:

Thank you. It is good that they don’t deny it, because these things are obvious to anyone who actually reads the texts. In the West the entire “Islam is a religion of peace” industry depends on people NOT having read the Qur’an and NOT being acquainted with the life of Muhammad and the rulings of Islamic jurisprudence.

And of course, some people, presented with the plain facts, will continue to deny them, no matter what.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 1:36 PM

Thank you so much Robert. What a privilege this is to have you sharing your knowledge and insight with us on this critically important topic.

infidel4life on May 27, 2007 at 1:37 PM

4shoes:

Muhammad’s followers memorized portions of the Qur’an. Some wrote down parts of it. The third caliph, that is, the third successor of Muhammad as the spiritual, political, and military leader of the Muslim community, Uthman, gathered all these people together in the 650s, some twenty years after Muhammad’s death in 632, collected the Qur’an as we now know it, and burned the written variants.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 1:39 PM

Hi Vik,

I wonder – after you take out all the incitements to do harm to others from the Koran, is there anything left?

Yes, there is plenty, as you will see — many denunciations of unbelievers and unbelief, along with affirmations of absolute monotheism, and retellings of various Biblical stories, and much more. Stay tuned.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 1:40 PM

Thank you for this forum. I’ll blow the dust off my Qu’ran and try to intelligently participate.

We had previously discussed abrogation in Islam and historical context of the Surahs is appreciated as they are not in chronological order.

Valiant on May 27, 2007 at 1:42 PM

I’m glad to see this, every single one of us has a vested interest in understanding more about Islam and how Islam works.

Speakup on May 27, 2007 at 1:51 PM

It seems to me that, given our histories, there is little (at least that I know of) to reconcile the West with Islam.

The religious-cultural genesis, and they are one and the same, of the West came when Adam and Eve made a choice. We are a culture of making choices (free will) and paying the consequences thereof. Islam, on the other hand, literally means “submission”. There is no choice; there is just the law of Allah. It would seem that this really is a clash of civilizations, and the respective civilizations are mutually exclusive.

I look forward to Robert’s “class” to tell me if that basic assumption is wrong. Thanks Robert for all you do.

HerrMorgenholz on May 27, 2007 at 1:52 PM

The first thing I’d take objection with is the fact that many Christians do indeed believe that The Bible is the absolute word of God; not that it was “inspired” by God, but that every word in The Bible is in there because God wanted it to be in there. They could be referred to as fundamental Christians, just as Muslims who believe every word in the Qur’an is the word of Allah could be referred to as fundamental Muslims. For example I think you can be called a Christian without believing the Old Testament to be literal just as I think you can be called a Muslim without believing in every single teaching.

Nonfactor on May 27, 2007 at 1:56 PM

Mr. Spencer, I admire your quiet strength and courage in covering the root/s of the most important challenges of our time.

They call this war a jihad, a religious war. We call it a War on Terror, and not the War on jihad, so as to not be perceived as fighting a religious war.

How come they get away in the media with fighting a religious war and we never would, no matter that they wish to dhimmi or destroy us? What should we call this war to make it more plausible to those in jeopardy, including the media?

Sir, I don’t have the answer; thus, if you don’t, or any of the commenters don’t have it either – I’m just looking for a discussion on these threads, which hopefully, eventually will lead to a more realistic name of what it really is.

Entelechy on May 27, 2007 at 1:58 PM

JihadWatch.org lists Robert Spencer’s books and others he recommends on a single web page, linked below. The page offers links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/books/

More generally, HotAir seems to have an opportunity to gain additional revenue by becoming an Amazon Associate. As I understand the program, an Associate maintains links or a full-scale portal into Amazon and selectively advertises books, etc., fitting the interests of the Associate and the customers (e.g., HotAir and HotAir’s viewers). I understand the Amazon Associate gets referral fees ranging up to 10% of sales. (If I recall, the cut is 8% for books.)

http://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/join

It appears that third-party software vendors have written software that automates much of the work of setting up and maintaining a portal. As for content, it seems HA’s readers and tipsters would send an endless stream of suggestions for inclusion; you’ve got a potential advisor for the political philosophy section right here.

Kralizec on May 27, 2007 at 2:00 PM

Entelechy on May 27, 2007 at 1:58 PM

As someone smarter than I said, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, we didn’t declare war on aviation. Why did we declare war on “terror” when we were attacked by a foreign culture? Terror is a tactic, not an enemy.

And the reason we can’t call this a religious war is that it is not. It is, in my mind at least, a real clash of civilizations, like the Visigoths and Rome, or Greece and Persia. Religion is the basis of our respective cultures, but it is our cultures that are at war. We are at war because we are incompatible.

HerrMorgenholz on May 27, 2007 at 2:03 PM

Thank you for the link, Mr. Spencer and for spending some of your busy hours with us here at HotAir. This will be a great learning tool for us all.

As to why we call it the “War on Terror”, we have to, we can NOT call it the War on Islam because we NEED our muslim allies to help us fight this worldwide scourge.

Tony737 on May 27, 2007 at 2:17 PM

Nonfactor:

The first thing I’d take objection with is the fact that many Christians do indeed believe that The Bible is the absolute word of God; not that it was “inspired” by God, but that every word in The Bible is in there because God wanted it to be in there.

Actually the doctrine of divine inspiration is not in opposition to the idea that the Bible is the absolute word of God, or in opposition to the idea that every word in the Bible is in there because God wanted it to be in there. I don’t want to get into a long discussion about the nature of Biblical inspiration as Christians understand it, as it would be off-topic here; all I was trying to do in the post above was contrast the New Testament, with its “according to Matthew…according to Mark” acknowledgment of a human element, with the Qur’an, in which Allah is the sole speaker, and nothing in it is according to anyone except him.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 2:18 PM

Entelechy:

I have often written about the absurdity of the “war on terror” label. I prefer “Defensive Action Against the Global Jihad.”

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 2:19 PM

Is it true that much of what is in the Koran and the hadiths codified (and later propagated) common Arab cultural practices of the day?

flipflop on May 27, 2007 at 2:27 PM

I prefer “Defensive Action Against the Global Jihad.”

What’s wrong with a war against Islamism, much like we’ve had wars against Communism and Fascism?

I don’t think it’s “Islamophobic” to say we’re fighting Islamism, the political-military movement as opposed to Islam, the religion.

flipflop on May 27, 2007 at 2:29 PM

The Bible was written by around 40 men over a few thousand years, I think, and God arranged that in such a way so no one could say it was all made up, or one big conspiracy. These guys lived in different time periods, came from different backgrounds, and yet throughout the entire Bible there is continuity. Why? Because it is God’s word, not man’s.

Okay, yes, that’s really off topic. I’m looking forward to this series though, because people need to realize a lot of the main conflict in the Middle East is not economical or political, but spiritual. I’ve read a bit of the Q’uran before, the first few Surahs. You don’t have to “cherry pick” anything to get the idea that Islam commends violence against infidels. Aaanyways, rock on, Robert Spencer!

emmaline1138 on May 27, 2007 at 2:32 PM

Nonfactor on May 27, 2007 at 1:56 PM

Nonfactor, everyone knows there’s some diversity of opinions within any religion with a billion believers. When you’re trying to shine by challenging a scholar on a point of his scholarship, it’s much better that your own point actually be challenging, not something that’s obvious to him and everyone else in the room.

Kralizec on May 27, 2007 at 2:33 PM

Flipflop:

I don’t think it’s “Islamophobic” to say we’re fighting Islamism, the political-military movement as opposed to Islam, the religion.

Sure, but that’s a Western distinction, not an Islamic one.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 2:34 PM

Robert, thanks so much for you series that is going to run here. I can already tell much will be learned by me and hopefully others.

kahall on May 27, 2007 at 2:41 PM

Thank you Mr. Spencer for, what I suspect, is going to be quite an undertaking. This is going to be a much needed education for me and many others I am assuming.

Sammy316 on May 27, 2007 at 2:47 PM

Robert, Hot Air, this is pure gold. Now I’ve got to go to my mini storage space and dig out my copy of the Qur’an.

As a Maronite Catholic of Lebanese heritage, we grew up with our Grandfather’s view of “Muslims”. He would say a Catholic and a Muslim could be friendly with each other but that their religion prevented them from becoming truly friends. My Grandfather also said that when a Muslim spoke of the future, he would end the sentence with the phrase “God willing”. So, by the end of this summer I hope to have a more complete understanding islam, God willing.

Zorro on May 27, 2007 at 3:10 PM

Kralizec on May 27, 2007 at 2:33 PM

If it was so obvious why act as if all Christians act the same (“whatever tradition”)? It isn’t just a slight “diversity of opinion,” I’d say it’s the majority opinion–God didn’t just “inspire” The Bible.

When Christians of whatever tradition say that the Bible is God’s Word, they don’t mean that God spoke it word-for-word and that it’s free of all human agency — instead, there is the idea of “inspiration,” that God breathed through human authors, working through their human knowledge to communicate what he wished to.

Nonfactor on May 27, 2007 at 3:21 PM

After 9/11 I started blowing through the books. Which then led me to Mr. Spencer’s books, which led me eventually to the web to follow our defensive action more closely. It’s a blessing to participate in the forum.

Buck Turgidson on May 27, 2007 at 3:51 PM

Mr. Robert Spencer,
I’ve read two of your books, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Truth about Muhammad. Both great reads, I Thank You for your years of hard work. I have also read a few other books about Islam, including one named Antichrist, Islam’s awaited Messiah by (pen name) Joel Richardson. That book really stood out for me as a Christian by its comparison of Eschatology of Islam with Eschatology of The Holy Bible. I am looking forward to your study and discussions of the Koran. Knowing that the study of the Koran by itself will be plenty to take in. I know I am expecting a lot in hoping you will at least touch on some of the comparisons made in Mr. Richardson’s book. I know you have read it since you have a recommendation on the cover as being “a must read.”

It is, as the others have said an Honor

abinitioadinfinitum on May 27, 2007 at 4:18 PM

I have dealt with Muslims in several Middle Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait). While they are all diverse, there are some core elements organic to all whom I have met and conversed with:

1. They despise Israel
2. I have yet to meet one who holds women in high regard.
3. They are distrustful of the “infidel west”.

Black Adam on May 27, 2007 at 4:24 PM

Wouldn’t Friday be a more appropiate day for this series? That is, after all, the day all good muslims go to their local mosque to get their marching orders for the week.

LakeRuins on May 27, 2007 at 5:23 PM

Black Adam, number 3 is partially understandable I think.
1 & 2 are indefensible imo.

aengus on May 27, 2007 at 5:55 PM

Is it permitted, or even required, for a Muslim to lie in a Muslim court when truthful testimony would enable an unbeliever to prevail over a fellow Muslim? Helping an unbeliever prevail over a believer could be construed as showing actual, as opposed to feigned, friendship or patronage towards an unbeliever, which is forbidden. Or would a Muslim in such a case be required to refuse giving testimony?

aynrandgirl on May 27, 2007 at 6:09 PM

Aynrandgirl

It is not required. It is permitted. See the discussion here:

http://hotair.com/archives/2007/05/25/nc-judge-witnesses-may-swear-oath-on-religious-text-of-their-choice/

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 6:11 PM

Mr Spencer, I think you misunderstood my question. I was asking about what a Muslim should do *in a Muslim court* when testifying about a controvery between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. There’s no question in my mind that a devout Muslim considers an *infidel* court illegitimate.

For a criminal example, Muslim A severely beats a non-Muslim, and claim in his defense that the victim slandered Allah. Muslim B knows for a fact that Muslim A is lying. Does Muslim B have any obligation to testify, and if he testifies must he tell the truth?

One can construct similar examples in civil cases. My point is that Muslim B has a problem, since his truthful testimony could be construed as giving friendship or patronage to an unbeliever, which is forbidden.

aynrandgirl on May 27, 2007 at 6:42 PM

I’m coming into this a little late, and haven’t read all of the comments, so if I’m repeating a request/comment, please forgive me. It would be really great if HotAir could have a permanent link on their home page that directed to a summary page containing all of the posts you make. Also, if you could give specific chapters/verses that you will be covering in the following week, for those of us who are completely ignorant wrt how the Koran is structured, perhaps even with links to those sections to online texts, that would be awesome.

Thanks for doing this. It’s definitely a service to many people.

nukemhill on May 27, 2007 at 6:54 PM

Aynrandgirl:

Sorry if I misunderstood you. In any case, the principle is that a Muslim should tell the truth to a fellow Muslim, but need not to an unbeliever if he fears the consequences of telling the truth.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 6:58 PM

Nukemhill:

I don’t have any control over the first request, but I will certainly comply with the second.

Next week: Surah 1, the Fatiha.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 6:59 PM

Thank you for this wonderful service. I have read a bunch of the Koran, but I don’t think I will get through it. It is so, so, so boring and repetitive. How many times do I need to read how bad Hell is, or how powerful Allah is? If someone hasn’t already done it, it would be interesting to catalog the repetitiveness of the Koran: X times the story of Adam is mentioned, Y times the story of Noah is mentioned, YY,XXY times Hell is mentioned, etc.

Again, thank you, sir.

Watergate on May 27, 2007 at 7:35 PM

Thank you Robert Spencer and Hot Air! This is just what I need and I appreciate being able to do this online study for free!

Josephine on May 27, 2007 at 7:50 PM

Robt.
The “chronology” you cite above @ USC is very complete, but it should be noted that it is terribly slanted in its perspective. For instance while noting:
“1943: Beginning of Zionist terrorist campaign in Palestine.
I don’t see a mention of “islamic terrorism”
and frequently citing “Muslim Conquests” it can be found lacking of rather important information in such listings as “732: The battle of Tours in France”

also interesting to note there is in the 15th century section, no mention of another rather significant event in Europe, in fact, not even post for 1492 and the end of the Spanish Reconquista.

Perhaps the greatest threat to Western Civilization in the 21st century can be found in the “selling of history” from particular perspectives, and it is certainly true of the “disinformation” flowing from the Islamists, as you so effectively point out in your marvelous books. I am sorry if I say the chronology you offered is not an example of the scholarship you normally demonstrate, and I wonder have you ever given it more than a cursory glance. I will try to find a less biased “chronology” and post here later.
I look forward to your upcoming articles!

CBP

…the will of the masses is divided by far-reaching distortions and the mass mind is corrupted by a knowledge worse than ignorance because it is false.
Ely Culbertson

colorfulbeachpersona on May 27, 2007 at 8:38 PM

Ely:

You’re quite right. It is a very slanted presentation, as it comes from an MSA site. I was only offering it as an overview of the basic history, and should have noted its limitations. Fregosi’s book provides a better perspective.

Robert Spencer on May 27, 2007 at 8:41 PM

Robert>
boy that was quick LOL
I am Mark
ely culbertson was a british historian of the early to mid 20th century, I find that quote to be most fitting for this most interesting age.
Please keep up your fabulous work on getting the truth out so
perhaps one day the knowledge of the masses will, infact, be the truth.

CBP
(Mark)

…the will of the masses is divided by far-reaching distortions and the mass mind is corrupted by a knowledge worse than ignorance because it is false.
Ely Culbertson

colorfulbeachpersona on May 27, 2007 at 8:47 PM

Bought some audio tapes once about Islam. It got painfully boring. Basically it started listing battle after battle. I believe Medina was one of the big Muslim battles something about a trench? I do remember the Muhammad fella writing the Koran after he woke up from a fever. I believe Gabriel was dictating to Muhammad. I had a Christian Sunday school teacher tell me in layman’s terms that Islam was created out of jealousy from Ishmael’s descendants . They felt left out of the Biblical God’s favor. I don’t understand Islam even though I try. I just feel it comes down to our way of life against theirs and then it’s easier to understand.

Drtuddle on May 27, 2007 at 9:18 PM

Etiquette question: For Christians it is normal to mark up a Bible — stores sell special highlighters for Bible paper, Bibles with wide margins for notes, etc. I understand that Muslims treat the physical Qur’an with special care. Does a note-taking Muslim make notes in and around the Qur’an text itself, or is there a practice of making notes in a separate, correlated notebook, or what? No, I’m not claiming that all of us should be bound by the Muslim believer’s practice, but I am curious to know what the practice is.

Pilgrim CW on May 27, 2007 at 9:44 PM

Drtuddle

it is almost universally accepted that muhammad was illiterate, and that the qur’an was transcribed after his death.

CBP

…the will of the masses is divided by far-reaching distortions and the mass mind is corrupted by a knowledge worse than ignorance because it is false.
Ely Culbertson

colorfulbeachpersona on May 27, 2007 at 9:49 PM

oh and an aside
if you are interested in the qur’an, you can CAIR will send you a very nice one if you ask for one on their website http://www.cair-net.org/. I like getting folk to ask for them, they are quite lovely, big and pretty like the old time “Family Bible” you used to see on peoples coffee tables, and I guess the thing must cost 40 or 50 bucks a copy.
So if everyone gets one of the free ones, its at least burning up a bit of their money, a buck or two they cant spend on buying stuff to kill us all with, and so far thats the only word I have heard from them ( that is I haven’t had a bunch of junk mail from them, and no muslim type people have come around waking me up on saturday mornings or anything)

Robt> from a scholars point of view, is the translation they send out a good one? ( it says “translated by Muhammad Assad if that helps)
anyway I think it doesn’t hurt to get this from an organization dedicated to the destruction of our country.

CBP

…the will of the masses is divided by far-reaching distortions and the mass mind is corrupted by a knowledge worse than ignorance because it is false.
Ely Culbertson

colorfulbeachpersona on May 27, 2007 at 10:01 PM

colorfulbeachpersona,

I ratify your recommendation about the CAIR Qur’an. It is a very nice edition. I received it and I have received no follow-up contacts of any kind (no email, hardcopy mail, or visitors).

I believe that translation is linked to in Mr. Spencer’s posting, as “another popular translation, that of Muhammad Asad.”

Pilgrim CW on May 27, 2007 at 10:10 PM

Robert, if you are still reading all this Sunday, Monday, I have one question.
In your judgement, how much of jihad is “kamikze’, and how much is “banzai”?
As you may recall, the kamikaze had some hope of reversing the course and outcome of WWII in the Pacific. In contrast, the banzai charge was for the purpose of getting themselves dead, any damnage to our side was coincidental.
It seems to me that our own capabilities in this present war are to a large degree knowing which mindset motivates the generality of the jihadists and which motivates their “elite”. Any illumination you can offer will be valuable. Thanks/

Oilpatcher on May 27, 2007 at 10:12 PM

Robert, I wasn’t sure I was going to follow along with this series because a few months ago I followed a link to an online Koran from an article about the war. I really could not comprehend about 80% of what I read so I quit. I didn’t get far. But it occurs to me that you are going to take us into it step by step and so I’ve decided to try to follow this series. I’m glad for the opportunity to learn and ask questions about a religion that is having such a great impact on the world right now. So thank you for taking the time.

CCRWM on May 27, 2007 at 10:59 PM

Robert Spencer rules. Love his site. AM SO thankful he risks his life to publish what he does. Same as the other jihad exposers like hotair, debbie schlusel, michelle malkin, and of course..LITTLE GREEN FOOTBALLS.com

Highrise on May 28, 2007 at 3:37 AM

Thank you Robert, so much for taking the time to do this. I look forward to all the installments.

Theseus on May 28, 2007 at 8:54 AM

Thanks soooooo much for doing this! I have enough problems keeping up with the Bible, that reading through the Qur’an was one of those projects waaaaaaaaaay down my priority queue which I would probably never get to. Given that the Qur’an is not supposed to be translated from the original Arabic, according to Islamic purists, finding a suitable translation for someone who is not learning Arabic anytime soon, is a surprisingly high barrier to overcome.

Which brings me to a request: Could you give an overview of the major English translations of the Koran with accompanying pros/cons of the respective versions?

Again, thanks for doing this!

zb42 on May 28, 2007 at 9:19 AM

zb42 on May 28, 2007 at 9:19 AM

While waiting for Robert’s answer, take a look at his biography page on Jihad Watch:
http://www.jihadwatch.org/spencer/
About two thirds of the way down there’s a section on English translations of the qur’an.

Mellow on May 28, 2007 at 12:15 PM

Thank you Mr Spencer. And I will be looking forward to the series.

CrimsonFisted on May 28, 2007 at 12:37 PM

Nonfactor on May 27, 2007 at 3:21 PM

In the first phrase (“The first thing I’d take objection with…”) of your first comment in the first post in this series, you set yourself up in your usual role as an adversarial pest. My purpose in replying wasn’t to involve myself in a dispute with you about your pedantry, but the opposite. I hoped that if you were told once, in so many words, how unimpressive you are, we might get to endure less of you for the duration. Otherwise, the best remaining tactic is largely to ignore you unless you say something pertinent and interesting. By “pertinent,” I mean contributory to our warlike aims.

Kralizec on May 28, 2007 at 1:06 PM

Thank you Mr. Spencer and the HA folks for this opportunity.

Perhaps I can convince a few friends to climb aboard and follow along so they can begin educating themselves about the struggle of our time. Afterall, many of them have kids and since we’re beginning to build weapons systems our kids will be using they may as well know who it is they’ll be using them against.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

- The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

CliffHanger on May 28, 2007 at 4:04 PM

Love it!
Can’t wait to read it. BTW, Robert, I was going to send you a book called “Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Colldie” by Bat Ye’Or
Have you heard of it–do you have it?
Leiren

Leiren on May 28, 2007 at 10:23 PM

Leiren on May 28, 2007 at 10:23 PM

Robert probably knows the author who goes by the pseudonym Bat Ye’Or quite well ;-)
She is pretty much required reading for those interested in the fight against expansionist and supremacist islam.

She’s one of the interviewees in the documentary “What the West Needs to Know”:
http://www.whatthewestneedstoknow.com/
(available for purchase at Walid Shoebat’s site prior to its nationwide July distribution)
http://www.shoebat.com/islam.php

Mellow on May 29, 2007 at 4:02 AM

This should be a fascinating experience. I do have one question that I think should be considered early on. Is there a reasonable explanation as to why Uthman and his cronies chose to scrap chronology and assemble the suras in order of length? Was this a deliberate attempt at obfuscation?

RedWinged Blackbird on May 29, 2007 at 10:39 AM

The Qur’an is, according to classic Islamic thought, a perfect copy of a book that has existed eternally with Allah, the one true God, in Heaven: “it is a transcript of the eternal book [in Arabic, “mother of the book”] in Our keeping, sublime, and full of wisdom” (43:4).

Does this indicate that most Muslims believe Arabic to be God’s personal language?

Penthesileia on May 29, 2007 at 11:41 AM

Thank you to Mr. Spencer and Hot Air! Understanding the Koran is tough, but I firmly believe knowledge is power so I cannot wait to be handheld through it to achieve a real and personal understanding!

LawEER on May 29, 2007 at 2:58 PM

Mellow–thanks for letting me know. I heard this author speak a few years ago in DC, but haven’t heard of anything more since. Thanks for the links. :)

Leiren on May 29, 2007 at 11:26 PM

ROBERT>>>

You are my cuddlebug!

You could blog the PHONE BOOK and I’d read every word!

XOXOXO Janie

seejanemom on May 30, 2007 at 7:42 PM