Two books were published over the last year that contribute in no small way to exposing Islam not only as a pernicious and viral ideology, but as a fraud perpetrated on countless Muslims and on the West. They are Norbert G. Pressburg's What the Modern Martyr Should Know: Seventy-Two Grapes and Not a Single Virgin,* originally published in Germany in 2009 as Goodbye Mohammed but revised for a wider market, and Ibn Warraq's Sir Walter Scott's Crusades & Other Fantasies.** Both books subject Islam to the intellectual and scholarly equivalent of night vision devices (NVD's) to reveal what really lurks in ambush in the dark green jungle of Islam.
The following comments do not pretend to be comprehensive reviews of the books, but are intended to serve as recommendations and enticements to read the books.
What the Modern Martyr Should Know helps to reveal the bitter, psychotic flummery in the Koran and Islam. Pressburg presents a very persuasive argument that the Koran and its companion works, chiefly the Hadith, were and still are works-in-progress, put together from disparate sources by Islamic myth-builders who may as well have worked as skit-writers for Saturday Night Live.
I can pictures it now, a variety show broadcast by Al Jazeera. "Live! From Mecca! It's Friday Night Prayers!" (Cue a jiggy muezzin reciting the adhan to a rapper's rhythm. Cue a rapid, subliminal montage of stonings, beheadings, hangings, amputations, rapes, honor killings, genital mutilations, suicide bombs, Bush holding King Abdullah's hand, Obama bowing to the Saudi king, flash images of Afghani bacha bereesh, mass wiggling arse-lifting or "Mooning the West" by Muslims at prayer, cast head shots, guest host, guest bands and musicians, etc.).
Pressburg addresses such questions as: Did Mecca actually exist? What is the true history of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem? How impossible was it for Islam to conquer the Arabian Peninsula and a goodly square mileage of the Middle East, and also Persia and Egypt, in less than a century? Did Christians and Jews really thrive under Islamic "tolerance" in Muslim Spain? Do the abrogated, earlier verses of the Koran play any role in the propagation and proselytizing of Islam today? In which century did anyone note the irruption of Islam from Arabia?
...There is no scientific evidence about invasions and the capture of Syria, Persia, or Egypt by Muslims during these time periods. That is because the establishing of the Arabian Empire was not a result of Islam - the empire had been there already. Only due to its existence was the exhaustive spread of Islam possible. Hence, the conquests of the first two hundred years under the green banner of the Prophet are nonexistent....(p. 146)And that Arab "empire" was fundamentally Christian, a functioning political and religious legacy of the Byzantine era. In short, Islam's doctrine takes credit for another historical phenomenon, with which it had little or nothing to do with Islam's influence on the course of events in the Mideast and Northern Africa between the eighth and twelfth centuries.
The birth of Islam and the creation of its Holy Book did not happen overnight. And Islam certainly didn't spread over half of the ancient world within just a few years, [as Islam's] religious legends are trying to tell us. The history of Islam is long and twisted. It originated from the Arabic Christendom, [which] split off from Judaism, and Islam split off from Christendom. Signs of the coming separation were visible during the sixth and seventh centuries. The separation took place in the eighth and ninth centuries....The creation and establishment of what we refer to as Islam today was not completed before the twelfth or even the thirteenth century....(pp. 147-148)The Hadith, contends Pressburg - and I'm sure few other scholars and students of Islam would disagree - was a collection of invented or tongue-in-cheek anecdotes about Mohammad's life. Pressburg quotes some twenty-seven Hadiths to show just how nonsensical and bizarre the majority of them are. Such as:
IV, 6 Narrated [by] Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, who said the messenger of God had told him:Manufacturing Hadiths, centuries after Mohammad's time, apparently became a cottage industry, almost a contest to see who could come up with the most imaginative and inane pseudo-anecdotal incidents in Mohammad's life and the blandest things this intellectually deficient brute could possibly have said.
"When relieving yourselves, your faces or backs must not face the Ka'ba, but rather turn west or east."
XXXIV, 15 Narrated [by] Abu Huraira:
"The Prophet said: 'The evil eye is reality.' And he banned getting tattoos."
XXVI, 7 Narrated [by] Abu Sa'ID al-Khudri:
The Prophet said to the women: "Is it not true that the testimony of a woman is only worth half of that of a man?" They replied: "Yes, oh messenger of God." - "The reason for that is your intellectual deficiencies."
XXXI, 14 Narrated [by] Abdul Aziz:
Someone asked Anas: "Did the Prophet say anything about garlic?" "Yes, he said: 'A person who has eaten garlic shouldn't dare to get anywhere near our mosque.'" (pp. 42-48)
Hundreds of thousands of Hadiths were written down at least two hundred years after the alleged events....During the ninth century, a real Hadith-producing industry evolved. Hadiths were made to order and for money. People in power had Hadiths produced that would legitimize their positions. A certain al-Auja admitted to having made up four thousand Hadiths. Despite the fact that he was executed for this, the problem of forged Hadiths remained....According to conservative estimates, there are around 1.5 million Hadiths....(p. 48)It was interesting to learn that a Koran existed over a century before Mohammad was born in 570 A.D., that it was a Syrian Christian liturgical work, and that the Islamic Koran, which was supposedly dictated whole and "perfect" by an angel to an illiterate brigand in a semi-comatose state, is largely a work of fiction written by minds as malignant and corrupt as Charles Manson's or Hannibal Lector's. However, its collation, writes Pressburg, didn't begin until at least two centuries after Mohammad's death in 632 A.D., and even then it had to be continually corrected and expanded to resolve contradictions and to fill in gaps in doctrine and to account for historical conflicts and anomalies. The task ofcreating and developing Koran and the life of Mohammad was much like a movie treatment handed to a succession of Hollywood hack screenwriters, except that it took centuries, not mere years, to complete the end product.
The chief value of Pressburg's book is that the author performs the important task of examining the linguistic roots of the Koran's language, showing that it was not written in Arabic (or "Qur'anic' Arabic"), as Islamic clerics claim, but in a mixture of Aramaic, Greek, and local dialects, and cadged heavily from contemporary Hebrew and Christian doctrines and documents. "Allah," after all, was originally a pagan deity, Allat, a moon goddess of fertility. Pressburg draws extensively on Christoph Luxenberg's The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran (2009) to bolster his argument that in no way could Islamic clerics claim that the Koran was originally written in Arabic, because the language, at that time, was not sophisticated enough to accommodate what would eventually become the written Koran we know today.
Pressburg also traces the architecture, coins, tablets, and monuments of the period, much of which, while created in the Arabian period, bear Christian, Byzantine, or semi-pagan styles, symbols and markings. They have nothing to do with Islam. Until the Muslim hordes burst out of Arabia on campaigns of conquest, Pressburg writes that Islam was little known before the tenth century (Mohammad purportedly died in 632 A.D.). There was virtually no mention of a fanatical religion being spread by scimitar and spear or of Islam or of a "Prophet" in contemporary chronicles or in debates or discussions by writers and political figures until the end of the twelfth century. One would have thought that the depredations of such an "invincible" nemesis would have given Islam's alleged contemporaries and enemies grave pause for thought. Islam's aggressions and atrocities ought to have been "headline news" in the previous centuries. Why weren't they? Pressburg provides convincing arguments for why not.
The downside of What the Modern Martyr Should Know, translated from the German, is that apparently no serious attempt was made to line-edit the text by the author's middlemen. It contains scores of typographical, spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors. Publication of the English language edition ought to have been delayed until they had been corrected. Pressburg's book deserved better treatment.
The "Seventy-Two Grapes" in the subtitle, by the way, refers to the linguistic confusion over what is promised to Islamic suicide bombers, martyrs, and other jihadis once they arrive in Muslim Paradise. Pressburg cites Christoph Luxenberg's analysis of several abstruse and ambiguous passages in the Koran, including the promise of six dozen renewable virgins or houris ("heavenly maidens") to Allah's "warriors":
In using Qur'anic as well as non-Qur'an'anic sources, Luxenberg was able...to show that the alleged "white ones" [houris with big eyes] in the Paradise-related passages undoubtedly refer to grapes. The Syro-Aramaic word in, which is unknown in Arabic, means "crystal-clear, shiny, splendid, jewel-like appearance" in Aramaic. That means that hur in does not refer to any creature or person - certainly not to any houris - but rather, refers to shiny, jewel-like grapes. (pp. 16-17)From that, Luxenberg's translation of Sura 44:54, in its original form, "...and shall wed them [the believers] with houris that have big eyes," actually means, "We will provide a comfortable place for them under the jewel-like grapes."
One can't help but wonder if so many Muslims would be in such a rush to die with their slain infidels if they knew what their Holy Book actually promised them in the afterlife. Grapes? That's it? Paradise isn't an eternal combination of Studio 54 and a houri-house? Never mind. I'd rather herd sheep.
Pressburg performs some of his most vital work in Chapter 5, "Two Hundred Years of Silence: The Historic Muhammad" (pp. 71-94). For example, about the name Mohammad, or Mohammed: It would have been difficult for the brigand that carries his name to have been "christened" with it when it wasn't even a proper name. Pressburg writes:
With the Marwanids (in 682 A.D.) came also the muhamad. The term muhamad occurs first on al-Malik's coins. According to traditional interpretations, it of course, refers to the Prophet Muhamad. The facts, however, tell a different story. As Christoph Luxenberg clearly shows, muhamad certainly does not represent an individual's name. In Arabic, as well as in Syro-Aramaic, the latter of which was the main language at that time, this term denotes a gerund [meaning] "The One Who Is to Be Praised" or "the Praised One." Muhamad was a title, not a name. The muhamad-logo is found in many places. It was created in Persia....Pressburg turns to one mute authority on which to base his contention and also Luxenberg's: the inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, number three of Islam's holiest sites.
The same applies to the frequently used expression abd Allah, which means "God's servant" and serves as a modifier, not a name. To the Arabian Christians, the name for God had always been Allah; and [so] this term hasn't got anything to do with the Islamic Allah. (pp. 79-80)
Ibn Warraq tackles a different realm of Islamic falsity and myth-making.
Apostate Warraq is the author of numerous other books about Islam including Why I am Not a Muslim, Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism, Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy, and Virgins? What Virgins? And Other Essays.
Warraq's nonpareil and highly readable essays can also be found on the New English Review site, here.
His Sir Walter Scott's Crusades & Other Fantasies dwells largely on the fascination Western writers, historians, and thinkers have had with Islam, a fascination which conflicted with the realities of Islam and with recorded historical fact. Warraq focuses on four of Scott's Waverly novels, The Betrothed, Count Robert of Paris, Ivanhoe and The Talisman, the latter set during the Third Crusade and which pits the Christian crusaders against Saladin and the Saracens.
In Sir Walter Scott's Crusades, Warraq also discusses the plight and fate of Jews and Christians under Islamic rule in different periods of history, the persecution of Jews in Western Europe and by crusaders enroute to the Mideast, and the recent policy of self-censorship in the wake of Muslim mayhem and its threat over the representation of Mohammad in print and in the media, together with the alleged "misrepresentation" of Islam and Muslims by journalists and the news media, a policy which inhibits or suppresses any provable and obvious connection between Islam and Islamic terror.
Warraq deftly distinguishes between the brutal and doctrinal reality of Islam and what its Western defenders imagined it to be, especially in the person of Saladin, a major character in Scott's The Talisman, a sympathetic character who towers over the conflicted and almost uniformly grungy characters of the crusaders he is fighting. Warraq highlights the fact that the seeds of today's political and moral relativism, which allows Western politicians, intellectuals, and media to ignore the nature and record of Islam, were planted in 19th century literature, such as Scott's novels that dealt with the Crusades.
He speculates on whether or not Scott knew he was painting a fraudulent, "romantic" picture of Islam and of Saladin. He cites contemporary chronicles that reveal the Saracen leader in less than flattering terms, and not the magnanimous, sagacious, and humane Moslem warrior who pardoned his captured enemies, but as a cruel, sadistic brute who regularly made a show of slitting their throats or beheading prisoner crusaders and even ordering the slaughter of 50,000 defenseless Sudanese soldiers, once his military allies, in Cairo in 1169.
Sir Walter Scott, under the influence of the Scottish historian William Robertson, who had perpetuated the Enlightenment myth of the superiority of Islamic civilization, continued the theme of the vain and avaricious Christian Crusaders in contrast to the chivalrous and honorable Saracens. (p. 16)Scott, writes Warraq, although committed to "religious and racial tolerance, and his Enlightenment abhorrence of superstition and fanaticism, whether of the unreflective kind of the masses, or the more dogmatic variety of the religious bigot," subscribed to an inverse bias which reflected a weakness for the superstition of Islamic superiority and a dogmatic penchant for cultural bigotry - in favor of Islam.
In The Talisman, Saladin is depicted as an idealistic individual, uninterested in booty, blood shedding, forcibly converting infidels to Islam under pain of death, or conquest, but instead as a colorful, tolerant, and almost selfless character devoted to the allegedly high "ideals" and ethical standards of Islam. He is imbued with the virtues heretofore reserved to the European Age of Chivalry. Saladin is projected as a near compatriot of St. Francis of Assisi. However, writes Warraq in his chapters on Ivanhoe:
Scott, though often considered a respectable historian, is quite cavalier with the historical facts in Ivanhoe, or as A.N. Wilson [a British writer and newspaper columnist] put it, "wildly inaccurate. Scott himself admits the unhistorical nature of many of the details in a footnote, "...but neither will I allow that the author of a modern antique romance is obliged to confine himself to the introduction of those manners only which can be proved to have absolutely existed in the times he is depicting, so that he restrain himself to such as are plausible and natural, and contain no obvious anachronism." (p. 17)On the subject of forced conversions to Islam, which Scott may or not have been aware of, Warraq quotes from The Talisman a pair of Saladin's fictional speeches, written to cast a heroic aura around the Mohammadan leader:
Saladin makes no converts to the law of the Prophet, save those on whom is precepts shall work convictions. Open thine eyes to the light, and the great Soldan, whose liberality is as boundless as his power, may bestow on these a kingdom; remain blinded if thou wilt, and, being one whose second ife is doomed to misery, Saladin will yet, for this span of present time, make these rich and happy. But fear not that thy brows shall be bound with the turban, save at thine own free choice. (p. 63)And:
Have I not told these that Saladin desires no converts saving those whom the holy prophet shall dispose to submit themselves to his law - violence and bribery are alike alien to his plan for extending the true faith. (pp. 63-64)Warraq then counters this fictional portrait of Saladin with quotations from Saladin's own biographer, Bahā al-Din Ibn Shaddad (1145-1234), "who was permanently enrolled in the service of the Sultan in 1188, and for the rest of Saladin's life was his intimate and close confidant...."
[A]...[A] Frank [a Christian crusader] who had been taken prisoner was brought before him [Saladin]. He ordered his head to be cut off, which was done in his preence, after the man had been offered Islam and had rejected it.Elsewhere in his book, Warraq discusses the fact that representations of Mohammad are common in Islamic and Western art, the treatment of Jews by Saladin and the crusaders, Saladin's bloody political intrigues (he was Sultan between 1174 and 1193 in conflict with other Muslim leaders and groups), the perceptions of Jews and Islam by prominent writers in the 19th century, such as George Eliot, John Stuart Mill, and Mark Twain, and the rare thinker who saw through the romanticized view of Islam and Islamic rule for the despotism it actually was, particularly in the Ottoman Empire.
[B] [Saladin once ordered his son, al-Malike al-Zahir, lord of Aleppo to execute a young man that came forward...of whom it was said that he rejected the Holy Law and declared it invalid. His son had arrested him because of reports about him that he heard. He informed the sultan [Saladin] of this, who ordered his execution and his body to be publicly displayed for some days. This was done.
[C] [After the Battle of Hattin, July 1187, Saladin summons the prisoner Prince Reynald of Châtillon] He said to him, "Here I am having asked for victory through Muhammad, and God has given me victory over you." He offered him Islam but he refused. The sultan then drew his scimitar and struck him, severing his arm at the shoulder. Those present finished him off....(pp. 64-65)
Warraq ends his book by moving to our own time to discuss the delusional policy of treating Islam and its repressive culture as beyond moral judgment, or as actions to not risk taking by criticizing Islam in scholarly works or in satire lest Muslims be "offended" or "insulted" ("pre-emptive censorship, or self-censorship). Here he dwells on Barack Obama's blatantly pro-Islam policies, the South Park "Mohammad in a bear costume" capitulation, and other craven surrenders to Islamic extortion via riots and street demonstrations and in the culture at large. He calls for a stand by the West to reject Islam's "holy law" about criticizing Islam, and quotes Kenan Malik, a board member of the Index on Censorship:.
Once we accept that it is legitimate to censor that which is 'unnecessary' or 'gratuitous,' then we have effectively lost the argument for free speech. (p. 242)"Unnecessary" and "gratuitous" as defined by whom? By Islam, and by Islam's hapless Western dhimmis in the courts and in the culture, and by killers otherwise known as Islamic suicide bombers and other jihadis. Warraq cites Daniel Pipes' The Legal Project (I would also include The Lawfare Project) as a means to spotlight incursions on freedom of speech,
Warraq concludes his book on a Gunga Din note, sounding a warning about the trap Westerners are marching into.
A firm declaration in support of artists in whatever medium would send a clear message to all Islamic, yes, Islamic, terrorists, and easily offended Muslims that we are proud of our values, and we will defend them at all costs, and that we shall not be terrorized....Unless we show greater solidarity, massive, public, noisy solidarity and show that we care for our freedoms, we risk losing all to Islamist thuggery. (pp. 243-245)Speaking of fiction, one can view Islam in another way, as well. In contrast to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic hoax perpetrated and proselytized by forgers, the credulous, and the ignorant, the Muslim Brotherhood's 1991 "Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal in North America" can be viewed as an appendix to "The Protocols of the Long-Dead Elders of Islam," evidenced, documented, and demonstrated daily by the Islamic jihad against the West, whilst conforming to the totalitarian nature of Islam, and constitutes a very genuine and provable conspiracy to conquer the world.
Islam is a savage, fraudulent monster lumbering and lurching in our midst, destroying everything it touches. Only the torches and pitchforks of scholarly research and satire can drive it away and over the cliff into the dustbin of history.
*What the Modern Martyr Should Know: Seventy-Two Grapes and Not a Single Virgin, by Norbert G. Pressburg. 2012. Create Space, 2013.
**Sir Walter Scott's Crusades & Other Fantasies, by Ibn Warraq. Nashville: New English Review Press, 2013.