Lee Harmon's Reviews > The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran

The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran by Robert Spencer
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Jun 07, 2011

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I was disappointed in this book. Whether it’s true or not hardly seems to matter; I was still disappointed.

Spencer hopes to introduce casual readers to the words of the Koran, and he has nothing good to say about it. He compares it to Mein Kampf. Here are some of the chapter titles:

The Muslims’ Worst Enemies: The Koran on the Jews
The Koran on Christians: They’re Not So Hot, Either
The Koran on Women: Crooked and Inferior
The Koran Teaches Nonviolence—Oh, and Violence, Too

Here’s the bottom line: If you want to know what’s in the Holy Book of Islam, read Spencer. If you want to know what Muslims believe, read Karen Armstrong. Islam is a religion of peace, which—like Christianity—attracts a few extremists. Like Christianity, its holy texts are in places downright abominable. Like Christians, practicing believers generally learn to ignore or spiritualize the ungodly portions of their scriptures.

Spencer says about his work, “You will find nothing in this book about Islamic ritual practices or prayers. This is an Infidel’s guide, focusing on where the Koran came from and its specific portions that are—or should be—of concern to Infidels.” It is, by Spencer’s admission, one-sided, and not reflective of general Muslim practices.

Tomorrow, I’ll balance this with a discussion of the Texts of Terror within the Bible, so we can realize how much Christians ignore in their holy book. It might help put things in perspective.
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message 1: by Roger (new)

Roger Morris "Islam is a religion of peace, which—like Christianity—attracts a few extremists. Like Christianity, its holy texts are in places downright abominable. Like Christians, practicing believers generally learn to ignore or spiritualize the ungodly portions of their scriptures."

This is a well-worn politically-correct mantra that just doesn't reflect reality. Yes, the Jewish OT has examples of war and killing, but no New Covenant Christian would take these stories as perscriptive for the modern Christian.

The situation in the Koran is not the same and trying to lump to two in together is stretching it a bit. The parts of the Koran that talk about Jihad,Dhimmitude and how to treat to infidels are clearly perscriptive for the modern Muslim. There is no way that I can see an honest reader would conclude that Islam is a religion of peace. Rather it is, and always has been, a religion of Law, conquest by violence, intolerance and beligerence toward non-believers.

Having said that, as I understand it, Spencer is an outspoekn secular Jew and right wind Zionist. I wouldn't expect him to give a balanced view on Islam.

message 2: by Lee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon Roger, do you think Islamic scriptures create a violent following, or do you think people are generally capable of overcoming their unholy texts? Christianity certainly went through its periods of violence, when they felt a sacred obligation to purify the world of infidels. Christianity outgrew it, and it's encouraging to me to see Islam trending the same direction. Some don't agree with me, of course, but it's hard for me to see any good coming of Spencer's books. Religious extremism is a complex problem.

message 3: by Roger (new)

Roger Morris The Crusades in the Middle Ages are, as I'm sure you are aware, more complex than just overzealous Christians wanting to boot Muslims out of the Holy Land. There was much more political and personal gain that motivated crusaders rather than holy zeal - and of course the vast majority of crusaders were at best nominal Christians, and at worst, totally secular. Richard the Lionheart was hardly a good pious Christian.

It is my honest belief (and I have a few Muslim friends) that Islam is built on a premise of forced proselysation and conquest by the sword, sharia law by force, aggressive dominance of non-Islamic underlings and intolerance of everything non-Islamic. This is prescribed by Mohammed and the Koran.

I believe violent jihadists are simply living out the Koran in the best faithful sense they know how. I'm not sure what these people could "grow up" into via the Koran. The only way to "grow up" would be to "grow away" from the Koran.

In contrast, if a Christian was to faithfully follow the teachings of Jesus, the picture would be, I believe, the polar opposite of someone faithfully following the Koran.

I agree with you though that religious extremism is a complex, multifaceted problem. However, it seems pretty plain to me that certain religious traditions lend themselves to extremism and violence more than others. Unfortunately, Islam is on the top of that list.

message 4: by Lee (last edited Jun 09, 2011 06:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon Roger said, I believe violent jihadists are simply living out the Koran in the best faithful sense they know how. I'm not sure what these people could "grow up" into via the Koran. The only way to "grow up" would be to "grow away" from the Koran.

Consider the way most Christians view the hate texts of the Old Testament. While still accepting the Bible as the Holy Word of God, they either ignore or spiritualize violent texts. This is not a matter of just saying Jesus did away with violence; it's more like forgetting that God could have ever approved of REAL killing in the first place. Some scriptures are horrible, but Christians ignore them. Can Muslims learn to do the same?

Christians are outgrowing a lot of Biblical teachings, such as homophobia, suppression of women, acceptance of slavery. Do you think Christians are "growing away" from the Bible?

message 5: by Sally (new)

Sally On the one hand, I am not particularly impressed with the Koran; there's a lot of hell fire but not so much of the injustice and violence instigated and approved by God as one finds in the Old Testament. On the other hand, historically Christianity is at the top of the list for violence and intolerance, and there are still many Christians who have difficulty accepting other religions as having any validity or right to exist. The treatment of pagans and heretics once Christianity was the state religion, the inquisition, the internal Crusades, the treatment of native Americans by Christian conquerors, the slaughter of Muslims and Jews in the taking of Jerusalem - there are too many instances to list of organized Christian violence toward non-Christians and heretics, usually instigated by the religious authorities. Of course the Muslims also say that those who are aggressive in the name of Islam don't represent real believers, just as Christians try to distance themselves from violence done in their religion's name. Still, Christians and Jews were tolerated from the beginning in the Islamic world, protected with legal rights and with the ability to take part in society at even the highest levels. Over the centuries Islam has proved itself to be a much more tolerant, peaceful and open-minded religion than its older Abrahamic sibling.

message 6: by Coyle (new)

Coyle Right Sally, the "who's killed more people in history" game doesn't work, because everyone loses. Muslims, Christians, atheists, and, well, everyone have their body counts to try to explain away.
I think a more useful (if not always perfect) method of judging a religion is the question of how it treats its own people, rather than how it treats others. Especially if one of its own is different in a way that is perceived to be negative. For example, how does the religion treat those with a chronic or contagious disease? Or, potentially an even bigger test, what are the guidelines for dealing with a member of the family or community who leaves the religion and embraces another faith?
Like I said, not necessarily a perfect test, but I think a more useful one than who's racked up the most casualties.

message 7: by Roger (new)

Roger Morris Sally, I think the honest truth is that modern secular, "free thinking" society has far more to fear from extremist Islam than fundamentalist Christians. The former kill and mame, while the latter amuse and occasionally annoy. It is a ham fisted approach to lump all in together as though they were a homogenous group of wackos.

The difference is that when secular violence was executed under the umbrella of nomimal or state Christianity, the perpetrators were acting in ignorance or opposition to the teachings of Jesus. In contrast when Muslims do this they are acting in a manner encouraged, prescribed and directed by the Koran. Again, to blur this distinction is mischievous. Like so many others in this era, it seems that you are looking at Islam through rose-tinted glasses, while looking at Christianity through a negative bias. You are not the first, and won't be the last.

Lee, you make a good point about OT atrocities and interpretation of the Bible in the modern world. I agree that contemporary science is certainly forcing Christians to reinterpret aspects of the Bible, possibly returning to less literal and fundamentalist interpretations championed in philosophical golden ages of Christianity - the Early Chutrch Fathers, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Pascal, etc. This, I think, is a good thing. I think Islam is more resistent to this and has a lot further to go in its contemporisation process - if it ever achieves it at all.

message 8: by Sally (new)

Sally I think "by their fruits you shall know them" has a great deal of validity and relevance when evaluating ideologies of any kind, and especially the institutions they produce. Of course, very few members of any religion actually practice its ideals, human nature being what it is. It's no use dismissing abuses as "nominal or state Christianity" unless you let every other ideology use that dodge, which they can as easily do (even Marxism). I certainly admit that other religions and ideologies have caused much human suffering as well.

For those who revere freedom of thought and belief, fundamentalist Christians and Muslims are equally to be feared - and fundamentalist Jews and Hindus too. Christianity and Islam are very similar religions, and it's difficult to demonize one without being able to demonize the other in a similar way unless you put your hand on the scale by focusing on a negative aspect of one (that you dismiss or excuse in the other) and a positive aspect of the other (which you downplay or deny in the one). I'm not a fan of any religion, but right now ordinary Muslims are being smeared and demonized because of a small minority of extremists, and in the US fine, peace loving people are meeting more discrimination and hostility, and feeling increasingly anxious. I see this with my Muslim friends and acquaintances. Promoting hate and fear of over a billion human beings by demonizing their religion is bigoted and dangerous. If it's not fair to do it to Christians and Christianity, it's not fair to do it to Muslims and Islam - and most Christians would feel that demonizing them and their religious scriptures was unfair and unjustified.

message 9: by Roger (last edited Jun 10, 2011 12:31AM) (new)

Roger Morris The defence of "nominal" Christianity is not a dismissal of responsibility, but it is certainly a contextual recognition that not everyone who claims to be acting as a representative of Christianity is, in fact, a Spirit-filled Christian. "By their fruits" is certainly relevant here. And the fruits of the message of Christ is by no means terrorism, violence and genocide.

I think it takes a breath-taking amount of broad-brushing to try to justify that fundamentalist Muslims and Christians are equally to be feared. Try living as a secular person in a Christian country vs a Muslim country and you will see the difference. Try to live as a Christian in a Muslim country, and vice versa, and see who keeps their head longer. These are realities which you seem unwilling to admit. It is an unfortunate characteristic of contemporary atheism, particularly in the New Atheism, to simplistically and homogenously lump all religions in the same rubbish bin. My theory is that most fear extremist Islam, with good reason, but feel compelled by political correctness to broaden their condemnation to all religion (a safer, yet less honest, target).

In what way are Christianity and Islam "very similar", other than both arising out of and being influenced by Jewish montheism? Again this is a broad generalisation which suggests only a cursory understanding of either religion. Islam, which came after Judeo-Christianity, expressly rejects all of the major tenants of Christianity.

I agree that there are good people in all religions. In the case of Islam, I think that most good people would be moderate or secularised in their Islam.

message 10: by Sally (new)

Sally Christianity and Islam are very similar. To generalize: they are monotheistic religions of conversion (vs Hindus and most tribal religions), centering on an all-powerful creator god (Buddhists, Jains, Daoists and Confucianists need not apply), holding that people experience only one lifetime on earth (no reincarnation here!), then undergo a judgment by God and are assigned by him to eternal heaven or hell based on whether they conformed to certain criteria established by God largely centering on belief. Believers are supposed to follow the moral example of the religion's founder, but may be able to get into heaven even if they don't because of God's mercy and their faith (no karma thank you!). Both recognize the Old Testament prophets and trace themselves back to Abraham. Both revere Mary and hold that Jesus had a virgin birth and will return again before the Last Judgment; for both, he is the holiest person in history. They both center on scriptures that are supposed to be revelations from the one creator God. Their fundamentalists hold that these scriptures are inerrant and literally true, every word. Each faith has engaged in holy war and traditionally held as the ideal all humankind being united in Christendom or the Islamic community as the case may be, where state policies enforce and reflect religious doctrine and law. This was the largely the case in the Islamic world, though in recent times colonialism and globalization have taken a large toll; and was largely the case in the Christian world until secularism was strong enough to break the hold of Christianity over political and social institutions, a process that took several centuries and is still not complete. Of course, these societies did not live up to the moral code of their respective religions, and the religions can't be held responsible for all the bad or good that went on. Christianity is not as threatening as Islam because Christianity no longer has the same power in "post-Christian" (Western) societies; but in past centuries it was formidable as many a heretic, heathen and Jew could confirm. I believe that the more extreme Christians would like that power back, just as extreme Muslims would. Despite their differences in doctrine and history, I can't imagine any other religion being more like Islam than Christianity and vice versa, unless it were a sect or offshoot of one or the other.

message 11: by Mark (new)

Mark Johansen I guess there's a little game that goes around where a religion or ideology is accused of bad behavior, and its defender's reply that the people who did these evil things weren't really members of their group. Christians distance themselves from people who persecuted Jews, environmentalists dismiss any connection to the Unabomber types. Even atheists have done this: In "Letter to a Christian Nation" the writer starts out saying that atheists have higher moral standards than Christians, and then dismisses the fact that people like Stalin and Pol Pot were atheists by saying they were not "rational people". Which left me thinking, Wait, are you saying that because they were "not rational" that means they don't count? You just spent a lot of ink pointing out examples of evil Christians. Why can't we just say, "Well, but those people weren't rational" so they don't count again us?

On the one hand, one could say that this is just an excuse. You claim that your religion or ideology produces "good people" or "good societies", and any time someone points out a counter-example of a member of your group who is evil, you say that this doesn't count, because the very fact that they are evil proves they are not "really" a member of your group.

But on the other hand, surely we cannot hold someone responsible for the actions of everyone who chooses to call himself by the same name. For many centuries in Europe and America, Christianity was highly respected. It is not a wild idea to suppose that an evil person might want to take advantage of the good name Christianity had to hide or justify his own evil deeds. Just like today science is highly respected, and so every crackpot claims his nutty theory is "science".

Like, that group that goes around making anti-homosexual protests at funerals of soldiers. Every news story I've seen about them points out that they call themselves "Baptist", and many imply or outright state that this shows that all Baptists are radical extremists. Very few mention that their leader ran for office several times as a Democrat. Does this prove that all Democrats hateful and intolerant? I saw one news story that mentioned they were all lawyers. Does this make all lawyers a threat to decent society? (Well, maybe that last one is a bad example.)

Furthermore, many of the criticisms of historical Christian behavior are very slanted. For example:
Hmm, Christianity's atrocities are:

1. The Crusades, where Christians invaded Moslem lands and killed Moslems. Of course when we say "Moslem lands" here, we mean, "Places that used to be Christian leands until the Moslems invaded and generaly killed, enslaved, or oppressed the Christians." Let's recall that the First Crusade started when Moslems attacked Byzantium, a Christian city, and the people of Byzantium appealed to the rest of Europe for help. The fighting was in Asia minor, Syria, and Palestine, the places where Christianity started and which were strongly Christian until the Moslems invaded. The complaint of Moslems appears to be that when they attack a country and attempt to slaughter or enslave the inhabitants, it is absolutely outrageous if the inhabitants fight back.

2. The Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition killed about 8000 people over the course of several hundred years. If Stalin had killed only 8000 people in a single day he probably would have been disappointed that it was a slow day. The main target of the Inquisition was Protestants. (Their next biggest target was Jews.) As a Protestant, I fail to see why I should be expected to apologize for the actions of people who fought AGAINST my ideological ancestors. It's a big enough stretch to blame a modern Catholic for the actions of people hundreds of years ago who called themselves by the same name. To hold a Protestant responsible for the actions of his enemies ... that's like demanding that black people apologize for slavery.

3. Salem Witch trials. In America, the churches spoke out AGAINST the witch trials. It was secular leaders -- mostly judges and some politicians -- who perpetrated the Salem witch trials while the churches vainly protested. They were largely silenced by political pressure, so perhaps they could be accused of being weak, even cowardly, in their opposition. But that's a much different thing from initiating the evil.

I'm certainly not saying that no evil has ever been done by people who called themselves Christian. I'm not even saying that no evil has ever been done by people who rightly should be called Christian. I'm just saying it's a whole lot less than the common wisdom.

message 12: by Andy (new) - added it

Andy In line with Mark Johansen's comments, the story of the Crusades has been twisted so badly as to represent a lie. This book (God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades) is one of many that does an excellent job of refuting the misinformation about the Crusades.

Paula To say the truthfulness of these passages is irrelevant because not all Muslims live by them is preposterous and offensive. TO say the new testament contans the same and you’ll be back to educate Christians about their “terror” is down right WRONG and offensive.

I have three thousand graves of innocent people that say these passages are relevant. I washed the aftermath of 9-11 off my windows. Do you understand that- I washed it off my windows- the ash of fathers and daughters incinerated because they went to work- and I washed their ash off my windows? I watched it get dark on that beautiful Sunny Tuesday by noon. How dare you tell me that because most Muslims are peaceful devout people it is irrelevant weather or not there is a foundation to the beliefs of the people who want to KILL ME and I shouldn’t look into understanding their hatred because it might cast an unflattering light on other Muslims who pick and choose which passages are important to them- Muslims who I wish God’s blessings on.

Neither I, nor the author claims that all Muslim’s are violent or threatening. This book is about helping us to understand the minority of Muslims who are trying to kill us based on religious fervor. That is a relevant topic. I think its ridiculous that you would claim we should ignore these passages in the Koran when 3,000 civilians died in an attack founded on the more militant and hatefull sections- while claiming the Christian books of the Bible does the same. One is true and one is not, one is the basis of an ongoing war that has been declared on me from a self proclaimed enemy I’ve never met, and haven’t offended in any way except exercising my religious freedom, a freedom everyone is entitled to, and the other is a figment of your imagination. That is certainly relevant. Neither the book, nor I, have anything against religious freedom or anyone’s right to worship our own god (which for the Jews Muslims and Christians is pretty close).

When a faction is literally training an army and spending billions to arm them for a war they claim is based on the teachings of the Koran, teachings about violence against non-Muslims is EXTREMELY relevant and the truth of this book is of UTMOST importance. If you don’t LIKE what it says, you should complain to Muhammed- not to Mr. Spencer. I think this book explains it well. If you find fault with the facts in the book, feel free to educate us. I read this book to understand why people I’ve never offended think I should be murdered wherever and whenever they get the chance to do so. That is relevant to me. This book is written to help me understand why people want to kill me. THEY WANT TO KILL ME. I want to know why. For you to suggest we should ignore that- or read the whole Koran, passage by passage, when if you are familiar with the Koran you will know that is a years long study in non-conformist writing style. Its ludicrous to suggest.

To claim the New testament has the same violent overtones is down right ignorant, offensive and blatantly incorrect- but you aready said truth doesn’t matter to you, so what should I expect?
Id love to see you pull one instance from the new testament, the Christian book of the Bible, that encourages beating your wife, stoning anyone, or waging war on non believers. I think you have written the most hypocritical, insensitive and incorrect review I’ve ever read.

Paula The crusades are not part of the bible. You can not compare actual written verse to the actions of dark age power hungry political figures who used Christianity as a land claim- NOT as a teaching of Jesus Christ.

message 15: by Lee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon Paula, you need to take a deep breath. There are a multitude of hurtful, hateful, violent texts in the Bible. The majority of Christians have overcome them, just as the majority of Muslims have overcome similar texts in their holy book.

With a little context--that is, Spencer affirming that the vast majority of both Christians and Muslims are peace-loving people, and that the Koran is no more evil than the Bible--I could have given his book a better rating. The way it is, Spencer's book does far more harm than good.

Paula FIND ONE SENTENCE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT that calls for murder, beatings, or violence.

Paula Spencer's book is accurate. Your assumption that, yeah its okay, but he should have called the Jews and Christians out on their teachings of violence so it would be fair is simply ignorant. Violence against non believers for solely the reason that they don't believe isn't part of the Jewish or Christian faith... or the Hindu or the Shinto. Not anywhere, not at all. That belongs ONLY to the Koran.

message 18: by Clark (new)

Clark Goble Paula,

Your comments here brought tears to my eyes. May God bless you.

Lee, I think the proper response in light of Paula's gut-wrenching comments would be a major dose of humility and an acknowledgment that you have completely mischaracterized the Word of God. You have yet to learn that while portions of the Bible may depict violence, it does not endorse it. There are no passages of Scripture I must ignore in order to live a loving, peaceful life. None. Responsible Biblical scholarship leads one to fall on their knees in worship of a living God.


message 19: by Lee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon You guys are kidding me, right? You both know that Revelation teaches that Jesus is coming down to earth to slaughter 200,000,000 people, while all of heaven cheers as they burn in the lake of fire? Jesus would be appalled to read those words. Nothing in the Koran comes even close to this. Nowhere close.

The Koran is not near as bloody as the Bible's old testament. Genocide is a common theme. I'm not saying that Spencer's book is inaccurate, for there is much that can be hurtful in the Koran. If Spencer wrote a similar book about the Bible, it would be just as "accurate." But, both books would be highly misleading, when it comes to describing both religions.

What I'm saying is that most Christians have overcome the evil that is in the Bible, and so have most Muslims overcome the evil in the Koran. Clark, Paula's story is gut-wrenching, but you hardly do her any favors by adding to her Islamophobia.

message 20: by Clark (new)

Clark Goble Lee ... at what point did I encourage "Islamophobia"? My comment did not even refer to Islam in any way, shape, or form. I do, however, encourage responsible Biblical scholarship ... and suggest that your insistence that the Bible somehow endorses and exhorts its believers to commit acts of violence (which if not explicitly stated in your comments is certainly implied) is completely irresponsible and just plain out of line. If you want to defend Islam, defend it ... but don''t throw the Bible under the bus in doing so.

message 21: by Lee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon I merely wish to make sure the Bible's hurtful texts are treated equally with the Koran's hurtful texts. If you see neither as "endorsing and exhorting its believers to commit acts of violence) then I'm happy. If you see both as endorsing violence, but recognize that its readers have overcome such teachings, then I'm happy. If you pretend the Bible doesn't endorse violence but the Koran does, then the discussion continues until you recognize the facts.

message 22: by Clark (new)

Clark Goble Lee, the Koran and the Bible are vastly different. Different writers, different motivation, different conclusions. To insist otherwise is foolish. Not all religions are the same. Unless of course you water them all down and rob them of their essential doctrines.

message 23: by Clark (new)

Clark Goble To gain perspective on how Christianity and Islam differ, I would recommend you read 'The Gospel for Muslims' by Thabiti Anyabwile who was raised Muslim and then converted to Christianity. Anyabwile has a love in his heart for Muslims and has produced a wonderful book that avoids the rhetoric that so often accompanies such debate.

message 24: by Lee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon Thanks for the recommendation, Clark, I'll check it out!

I am not trying to say all religions are the same. Merely that religions grow up. Most Christians have learned how to gloss over the violence in our holy book, treating it as a message of spiritual warfare, or by some other means robbing it of its evil. Most Muslims have learned to do the same. Both are religions of peace, dotted by a few extremists who can't seem to figure out how to read their own scriptures.

message 25: by Clark (new)

Clark Goble "robbing it of it evil" <- huh?

There is a difference between depicting an evil situation and endorsing it. It is also a completely different situation if you are accusing Christ or God of evil acts. I do not know the Koran well enough to make any particular arguments, however, I do know the Bible well enough to feel comfortable saying that if one is "glossing over" parts of it they are reading it wrong :)


message 26: by Lee (last edited Mar 23, 2013 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon heh, heh! OK, well, this discussion is about the Koran. Spencer's MO is to point out those passages in the Koran which are hurtful, and leave the conversation at that point, as if we're supposed to believe Muslims honor those portions of their scriptures literally. It's as silly as me pointing to laws in the Bible about how to treat slaves, and leaving it at that, pretending that Christians obey those ungodly laws.

I get it that many people on this thread (Paula was just the latest) want to think the Koran is more evil than the Bible. We're naturally protective that way. But that's hardly fair; if you're going to read the Koran the Spencer way and call it evil, then don't get angry when others read the Bible the Spencer way, and call it evil.

message 27: by J.D. (new) - added it

J.D. White Roger, Paula, Clark = CORRECT.


message 28: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Thompson I’ve read what Infidels wrote on the Bible, at least some of it. They don’t seem interested in really getting at truth, they just assume a fundamentalist reading of the text and point out every single problem they come across. This not only does not do justice to the text, it makes the critics of the Bible look foolish for not anticipating counter-arguments effectively and doing more thorough research. So I think I’ll stick to professional historians for discussions on ancient religious texts.

message 29: by Lee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon +1, Benjamin! ;)

message 30: by Paula (last edited Mar 26, 2013 09:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paula Guys- lets be realistic- you are talking about the difference between GODS vengeance on man (revelation), and God's commandments to man to take their own vengeance (Koran). This is a VERY SIGNIFICANT and specific difference.

My Christian God tells me to sit down and shut up- he'll come when its time and he will handle it- In a very unpleasant manner- (Based on a ROMAN CATHOLIC BOOK of revelation that I DONT BUY- but some do, so lets roll with it.) Revelation is COMPLETELY OPPOSITE of telling the followers of a religion they have the OBLIGATION and the RIGHT to take it upon themselves to judge and punish non-believers. The wrath of GOD and the entitlement of man to enforce the word of god are entirely unrelated concepts.

Lee, I want to write this to you specifically, because I think you are a good guy. I think the personal offense you feel is true, and you should be offended- because the majority of Muslims do lead very peaceful non-violent lives- But the MINORITY had made such a mess of the violent passages that you can't possibly think I should ignore it. I think to assume what the bible- any part of it, is the unadulterated word of god is simply silly. Christian, Muslim, or Jew. Power has always corrupted the wielders. I wish it would stop today. Since it hasn't- I think this is a well written book that helps non-believers understand why we could possibly be victims and how people see us as enemy. I am glad that you are not my enemy. I wish all of OUR GOD'S blessings(because he is the same) upon you and your family.

All men are born sinners- Muslin, Christian, or Jew. We murder each other every day on very very thin context. The good news is we have moved forward in the last 2-3 millennia, except for fundamentalist Islam. Our conversation online is proof. Our behavior as Americans nails it. We do live together peacefully- but that does not mean that we can ignore the minority- or assume our community, our unique mindset of understanding and tolerance as a culture in this country has any impact on the very very small violent minority, who have clear instructions to take vengeance into their own hands. The fact many non violent Muslims ignore it does not make it less so, and it certainly does not make it antiquated, it is clearly not an outdated concept.

Lee, I am glad that you are not part of them, I am glad that there are a HUGE percentage of Mulsims the world over who reject active violence.

It has no bearing on the validity or accuracy of the book.

message 31: by Andy (new) - added it

Andy Maybe we should encourage Spenser to incorporate some of the discussion here, provide some context? Excellent discussion, once we got into the meat of it, and stopped doing the rhetorical equivalent of drive-by shootings that are so common on both Goodreads and Amazon.

Paula Hey Lee? I know its been a while- I thought this conversation got a little bit out of hand.

I don't have the answers- but I'm glad that you are offended by Spencer's book. I am glad that you are a peaceful man who finds the highlighting of the most violent passages offensive. I think our conversation together highlights the capacity for people to discuss our differences, sometimes careful (you) sometimes aggressive (me) and still respect each others religious differences. Its a good thing. Regardless of my specific beliefs- we should be thrilled that we live in a country that allows all of them- we are free... I hope that if we ever get to a place where God will accept us,in all of our faults, hatred will not be a sin I have to repent. But that is my religion- I don't know your goals- but I'll make you a deal- you helped me understand your pride in your beliefs and your abhorrence of violence. I hope I helped you understand mine. If one of us is right- lets put in a good word for the other.

message 33: by Lee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Harmon :) Good plan, Paula, I'm in!

George Whether it's true or not hardly seems to matter?

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