BOOK REVIEW of Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins, by Robert Spencer
Spencer performs a super detective service for the West in this book. He examines virtually every aspect of the composition and history of Islam and its purported founder, Mohammad. Let us begin with one of his summations:
A careful investigation makes at least one thing clear: The details of Muhammad's life that have been handed down as canonical - that he unified Arabs by the force of arms, concluded alliances, married wives, legislated for his community, and did so much else - are a creation of political ferments dating from long after the time he is supposed to have lived. Similarly, the records strongly indicate that the Qur'an did not exist until long after it was supposed to have been delivered to the prophet of Islam. [pp. 214-215]
The Qur'an, the Islamic canon alleges, was the eternal "perfect book," coexisting with Allah, who sent it to earth via the Angel Gabriel to whisper into Mohammad's ear on Mount Hira, and which he, an illiterate, was able to communicate to the world in its entirety, unalterable, unchanged, and untouchable.
Well, because he couldn't write, he had secretaries to whom he dictated the Qur'an. No, wait. Those secretaries began recording the good book after he had died. No, wait
As Spencer demonstrates, it did not come into existence until long after Mohammad's death (presuming he even existed) in 632. (Gabriel was the "Prophet Whisperer.") The Hadith, the companion to the Qur'an purportedly a collection of Mohammad's sayings and doings, did not begin to accumulate until a century after his death. As Spencer shows, the Hadith became a kind of cottage industry for caliphs, Islamic clerics, scholars and anonymous scribes to invent its contents over the centuries for reasons that can partly be explained, and that partly remain conjectural.
Islam, Mohammad, and even Muslims did not begin to enter anyone's consciousness until early in the 8th century following Arab conquests of the Mideast and North Africa. Spencer emphasizes, and demonstrates, that it was Arabs, and not necessarily Muslims, or Moslems, or Mohammadans who waged jihad on that part of the Dark Age world. And those Arabs, while they were monotheists, were not necessarily Muslims.
Spencer demonstrates that possibly it was the biblical and Judaic Abraham who was the "prophet," not the person Mohammad. Surviving commentaries by chroniclers were ambiguous on the point. Moreover, that monotheist creed regarded Christians and Jews in a far more tolerant light of fellowship than would the Islam that finally emerged centuries later. It would explain many of the contradictory verses in the Qur'an, especially the earlier, abrogated ones.
Up until the time the Qur'an was being diligently assembled by a succession of clerics, politicians, and charlatans, no mention is made in the earliest documents that can be linked to Islam of the Qur'an or to Mohammad. What chroniclers referred to when writing about those events and those Arabs - which include fictive battles that Mohammad fought - were Hagarians, Saracens, or Taiyaye.
The invaders referred to themselves as Muhajirun, "emigrants" - a term that would eventually take on a particular significance within Islam but that at this time preceded any clear mention of Islam as such. Greek-speaking writers would sometimes term the invaders "Magaritai," which appears to be derived from Muhajirun. But conspicuously absent from the stock of terms that invaded and conquered people used to name the conquering Arabians was "Muslims." [p. 33]
"Allah," Spencer points out, was not the exclusive name for God of Muslims in this period, but a common term shared by Christians and Jews. "Muhammad" was not necessarily a proper name, but often an honorific title meaning "praised one," which could be appended to any random "prophet" or religious preacher.
As Spencer shows with meticulous attention to detail, Islam and the iconic Mohammad were too likely a consequence between feuding tribes, „ la the Hatfields and McCoys, in the prophet's alleged home base, Mecca, in this instance, the Quraysh and the Umayyads.
Spencer also points to the dubious role of Mecca itself in the history of Islam, and of the Kaaba, which was originally a shrine for a host of pagan and polytheistic deities, and not the sole spiritual property of Islam as is the common belief. It shared the fate of many churches in lands conquered by the invaders, which were turned into mosques. It was appropriated by Islam. That is, stolen by conquering Arabs of questionable religious color.
The original Qur'an, writes Spencer, had to have been in Syriac, not Arabic, as the Islamic canon asserts it was. Allah commanded it to appear in Arabic, and not in any other language. Spencer bursts that balloon, too. And every fifth verse in the Qur'an is literally incomprehensible, having no intelligible reference to what precedes or follows it.
Spencer devotes important attention to the likelihood that the Qur'an is founded on a substratum of early Christian and Judaic texts. The Qur'an possibly was based on an early Christian lectionary.
My first introduction to Islam was the epic Lawrence of Arabia in 1963. I was in high school when I first saw it on a big theater screen. From a directorial and cinematography standpoint, it is still one of my favorite films. Spencer's book clears up some of the dialogue and scenes in that film. For example, when Lawrence and his Bedouin army are nearing Damascus, an Arab rider offers Lawrence a stem of grapes. Lawrence tastes one and grimaces. "They are not ripe!" laughs the rider.
Spencer discusses the actual meaning of those grapes and their relationship to the seventy-two renewable virgins promised martyrs in Paradise. Citing the researches of Christoph Luxenberg, a contemporary investigator of Islam's origins, he notes:
"A closer philological analysis indicates that the Qur'an does not offer such a promise. After examining the rasm, the other contexts in which hur appears in the Qur'an, and the contemporary usage of the word houris, Luxenberg concludes that the famous passages refer not to virgins but instead to white raisins, or grapes."
Yes, fruit. Strange as that may seem, given all the attention paid to the Qur'an's supposed promises of virgins in Paradise, white raisins were a prized delicacy in that region. As such, Luxenberg suggests, they actually make a more fitting symbol of the reward of Paradise than the promise of sexual favors from virgins.
Luxenberg shows that the Arabic word for "Paradise" can be traced to the Syriac word for "garden," which stands to reason, given the common identification of the garden of Adam and Eve with Paradise. Luxenberg further demonstrates that metaphorical references to bunches of grapes are consonant with Christian homiletics expatiating on the refreshments that greeted the blessed in Heaven.
The fact that the Syriac word Ephraem used for "grapevine" was feminine, Luxenberg explains, "led the Arabic exegetes of the Koran to this fateful assumption" that the Qur'an text referred to sexual playthings in Paradise. [p. 169]
Luxenberg is one of the many pioneer investigators and examiners of Islam's origins to whom Spencer gives ample credit throughout his book. Luxenberg focused on the philological quirks and inconsistencies found in Islam's holy book in his 2000 The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Qur'an.
A chief inconsistency of Islam for me is that the Qur'an is claimed to have been the "perfect book" that coexisted with Allah. Yet, no sooner had Mohammad died than his successors began to fiddle with its contents to conform to the expediency of the moment - surely a punishable offence in Islam. When this is pointed out to the faithful defenders of the Qur'an's inalterability, the pat answer is that Allah planned it that way, that is, implying that Allah had the Angel Gabriel whisper an incomplete and imperfect Qur'an into a delirious Mohammad's ear.
So, it's an either/or conundrum for which Islamists have no credible solution and no rationally comprehensible answer.
The Qur'an especially winds up being a kind of Rube Goldberg-like literary contraption that contains explanations for every unnecessary and obvious contradiction, and its defenders hardly blush.
Islam has swindled its faithful, its communicants, its followers, its believers. All the possible evidence points to the fact that Islam's substance and veracity comprise a theological and historical fraud. The walls of Allah's gold mine of salvation and his blessings were salted with glittering silicate from a shotgun, meant to dazzle and stun the gullible and irrational into buying into what is, at root and in purpose, a totalitarian ideology. Unfortunately, about a billion people are comfortable with being the playthings of that ideology. Which is why Islam is, root and branch, incompatible with America.
Spencer leaves few rocks unturned in his search for the truth about Islam and Mohammad. Beneath them he has found either nothing concrete, or another hand-buzzer of Islamic practical jokers. He posits at the end that Islam was knocked together as a political faith to anchor the Arab empire in the 8th century, and then began to acquire its contemporary character as sheer political circumstances demanded.
In this relatively short book, Spencer adds an invaluable resource to the growing and much needed corpus of literature that exposes, if not the peril posed by Islam, then its maleficent and felonious origins.
Will the young realize that their Messiah has shafted them?
Anyone with a functioning brain and a TV knows the economy is disintegrating faster than a newspaper in the rain, and this counts double for those out scouting for a new job.
The recent college graduates, that sparkling, eager group of new additions to the workforce are finding it harder and harder to procure employment now that they have received their diplomas. And if by chance they do find someone to hire them, it is usually a job that falls far below their qualifications.
In fact, according to Associated Press, 50 percent of recent graduates are under- or unemployed.
Unfortunately, this statistic isn't very surprising. As a recent college graduate myself, I know that a lot of my friends have struggled to find jobs, and many are still searching.
It's quite disheartening to come out of the secluded world of college and fight tooth and nail trying to find a way to support yourself, and the times are only getting worse.
An astonishing amount of recent grads have even had to move back in with their parents because of the fact that they are unable to afford their own place without a stable job.
The majority of available jobs that are above the "Do you want fries with that?" category are being fought over by not just recent college graduates but masters and doctoral graduates who were fired or are looking to make more money, and so the pool of available work is getting smaller by the day.
The most interesting part of this situation is that the very people who were Obama's biggest supporters are the ones who are suffering the most from his mistakes.
The young adult demographic, who once held up our illustrious president in the highest of regards, now have started to lower their standards as their hearts, wallets and gas tanks are running on empty.
Maybe in the coming months, with the election hot on our heels, Americans can stand up for what we need and demand results. Hopefully they can find enough change to take the bus to the polling place on election day.
It looks like the young may realize that their Messiah has shafted them
Looks like President Obama's college tour was all for naught: a new poll reveals that young people are unlikely to bother voting in 2012, despite the fact that they may prefer Obama to Mitt Romney.
A Gallup poll conducted earlier this week surveyed voter registration and likelihood to vote, broken down by age groups. Among the 18-29 set, 60 percent indicated that they are registered to vote. Obama enjoys a wide lead over Romney in this age group: 64 percent support Obama while only 29 percent support Romney. However, when asked if they definitely will vote in the general election, only 56 percent replied yes.
Comparatively, every other age group surveyed-30 to 49, 50 to 64 and 65 and over- had a yes response rate of 80 percent or more.
Obama ran away with the youth vote in 2008: Voters between the ages of 18 and 29 chose him over McCain 66 percent to 32 percent, exit polls showed.
The actual percentage of young voters who turned out in 2008 was not much higher than in previous years: In 2008, 18 percent of the electorate was comprised of voters between 18 and 29. In 2004 that age set made up 17 percent of the electorate. The same was true for 2000. John Kerry and Al Gore won the youth vote in those years as well, but their margins were nowhere near Obama's.
Still, as ABC's Amy Walter noted earlier this week, Obama's percentage of the youth vote in key swing states like North Carolina, Virginia and Florida grew substantially from that of John Kerry in 2004, no doubt helping him carry these important states and ultimately claim victory. If that group doesn't come out to support him this time around, that is definitely a concern.
Despite the fact that the president is doing his utmost to appeal to young voters, it looks like they're just not that excited. Obama said it himself, supporting him just isn't that hip anymore. Looks like the honeymoon is over, and the youth is heading back into its politically apathetic cave.
Oklahoma Democratic chairman says Timothy McVeigh would be member of tea party were he alive today
He overlooks the fact that conservatives generally and the Tea Partiers in particular are in fact IN FAVOR of government: Constitutional government. Unlike Obama and his ilk, conservatives have great reverence for the Constitution. But there are lawless murderers and terrorists by the millions on the Left. Just look back on the regimes of some of the self-described "socialists" of the 20th century: Stalin, Hitler, Mao etc.
A more extensive comment on the identity of McVeigh here
The chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is refusing to back down from comments he made that likened convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to tea party activists.
"I certainly stand by my remarks, because it's widely known that McVeigh was anti-government. I think that he was a right-winger, and I think the current tea party people, while I'm not saying that they're proposing violence, they're anti-government," Collins said Tuesday. "They dislike the government. I don't know if you'd call them a government hater, but I certainly see them in a similar vein. Maybe they're an offshoot or offspring or next generation."
Let's not worry about fake online drugs: "Roger Bate has a curious op-ed in the NYT today. He's the lead author on a study which bought 370 drug samples from 41 online pharmacies around the world, and then tested their authenticity. The results? With the exception of Viagra bought from non-verified websites, every single drug was 100% authentic. But you'd never guess that from his op-ed."
Rick Perry was correct: "When Texas Gov. Rick Perry, then in the early stages of his short-lived quest for the Republican presidential nomination, referred to Social Security as 'a Ponzi scheme,' he was excoriated by the press, left and right, and by his fellow Republicans, as well. Earlier this week, government actuaries revealed that Perry was correct."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)