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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overarching and complete, October 28, 2012
This review is from: Sharia versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism (Hardcover)
In this overarching analysis, Bostom provides an engrossing and encyclopedic catalog of ideology and history of the naked totalitarianism of Islamic religious and political doctrines -- a diametric opposite to free Western social structure. Sharia prohibits political freedoms, freedoms of conscience, faith, and expression (both oral and written). As applied throughout its history and expressed in internal jurisprudence, Bostom shows, Mohammed's intractable creed suppressed and oppressed all with whom it interacted -- especially non-Muslims.

Intrinsically totalitarian jihadist and Islamic canon neither concerns nor governs only "believers." By Muslim belief, according to scholar Joseph Schacht (d. 1969), the "clear path to be followed" establishes divine, global Islamic order and cannot "be penetrated by the intelligence ... i.e., man has to accept it without criticism." It governs Muslims, and also "activities of the tolerated members of other faiths so far as they may not be detrimental to Islam."

Sharia code requires Muslims to mount regular jihad attacks on unvanquished non-Muslims and permanently, deliberately humiliate "inferior" jihad survivors. Their incorporation into Islamic polity subjects non-Muslims to sharia (pp. 110-112) and its inheritance statutes, requirements and prohibitions and draconian hadd penalties --- including death (by stoning) for adultery, apostasy, and highway robbery (whose victim was murdered); loss of limbs for simple robbery; loss of right hand for simple theft; 100 lashes for "fornication" and 80 lashes for wine drinking. Muslims understand sharia, tracing to Quran passages (like 45:18, 42:13, 42:21, and 5:48) and other Islamic texts, primarily hadith (Mohammed's reputed sayings and deeds) -- as "the totality of Allah's commandments" governing man, Schacht notes.

Islam cements "religion" to its 7th century totalitarian dogma, Bostom shows. For openers, while the Arabic word "hurriyya" translates to "freedom," it refers to "freedom as perfect slavery to Allah," as prescribed by highly dogmatic sharia laws engineered by the same dictatorial chief (Mohammed said, by divine instructions delivered via the angel Gabriel). It means something diametrically opposite to the same word in English -- study of which is now off limits for U.S. military and security officials.

Like Bostom's two previous landmark studies on Islamic jihad and antisemitism, his third adds significantly to our knowledge base. Often, contemporary scholars contend that Islam grew hateful upon absorbing Nazi anti-Semitism in the 20th century. Yet even in the Nazi era, Bostom shows, intellectual luminaries saw the truth as quite opposite. Like "Islam of old," noted a Protestant theologian Karl Barth in 1939, National Socialism's political experiment promised to those willing to participate; but when resisted, it could "only crush and kill." Nazism was best understood as "a new Islam, its myth a new Allah and Hitler as this new Allah's Prophet."

Terror also pervaded "heavenly," peaceful Andalusia. Spain's purportedly enlightened Umayyad conquerors were notoriously brutal, and established fierce, "immobile" Malikite Sunni doctrine and that "suspected and condemned in advance for the slightest attempt at rational speculation" (p. 368). In 1914, Miguel Asin Palacois saw Muslim Spain similarly, as had Cordovan "scholar of Spain par excellence" Ibn Habib (d. 853) and his student Muslim al-Kinani (d. 901), the latter noting that Jews must wear patches bearing the image of an ape, and Christians, patches picturing a pig. (pp. 368-375).

In Granada, Jewish viziers appointed to protect their community were assassinated between 1056 and 1066, after which a fiery anti-Jewish "ode" by Muslim jurist and poet Abu Ishaq filtered through Muslim Granada that very possibly incited the Muslim pogrom that then annihilated Granada's entire Jewish population of up to 5,000 -- as many or more than the number of Jewish people reportedly killed during the First Crusade's pillage of the Rhineland some thirty years later (pp. 176-177).

In Ottoman Turkey 400 years later, celebrated Hanafi jurist and court cleric Molla Khosrew (d. 1480) rested his jihad directives on Islamic totalitarian dogmas. Based on Q 9:5 and Q 9:29, Khosrew instructs, religious obligation (fard al-kifaya) requires jihad, which one must "begin the fight against the enemy, even when he [the enemy] may not have taken the initiative to fight." (p. 178).

In 1948, English-speaking Arab League Office member Aboul Saud described Islam to investigative journalist John Ray Carlson as "a religious form of State Socialism," granting the state "the right to nationalize industry, distribute land, or expropriate" those rights and property. (p. 256). After interviewing Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna, Carlson understood the sensational MB rise and near universal popularity of Nazism in Egypt. Average Egyptians, he concluded, "worshiped the use of force" since "terror was synonymous with power."

The Ottoman empire's 1918 demise only raised Muslim fervor for a new, stronger translational religious superstate -- and with it, individual and Islamic societal yearning for a totalitarian, sharia-based cultural regimen, including discriminatory governance of non-Muslims.

A 1979 treatise on jihad by Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik reflected bedrock Islamic ideology and its preface described the "bipolarized" Islamic world view designed by Hanafi school founder Abu Hanifa (d. 767) -- of "two opposing camps-- Darul-Salam (Islam) facing Darul-Harb," one submissive, the second "engaged in perpetuating defiance" of Allah (p. 201). Muslim historian and Quranic commentator Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 923) cites Hanafi, "affirming the impunity with which non-combatant `harbis' -- women, children, the elderly, the mentally or physically disabled -- may be killed" (p. 62).

Modern Muslim jurists also espouse foundational doctrines, Bostom shows. In July 2003, revered "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader chief Yusef Qaradawi approved pillage, noting that "Islamic law [determined] the blood and property of the people of Dar al-Harb [the Domain of Disbelief where the battle for domination of Islam should be waged] is not protected." All Muslims should mobilize, aid war and provide its "material and human fuel..." (p. 64).

Muslim public opinion avidly supports such views. An April 2007 University of Maryland/ survey of 4,384 recent interviews with Muslims reported, nearly 2/3 (2,872) wanted: "To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate"; 65.5% also wanted "every Islamic country" to require "strict application of Shari'a law."

A Dec. 2010 Pew poll in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, and Nigeria also documented support for hadd punishments: 82% of Egyptians and Pakistanis wanted adulterers stoned, as did 70% in Jordan and 56% in Nigeria; 82% of Pakistanis, 77% of Egyptians, 65% of Nigerians, and 58% of Jordanians supported whipping and amputation for theft. Most Muslims also want execution for apostates (Jordan, 86%; Egypt, 84%; Pakistan, 76%; Nigeria, 51%). A concurrent secret cable from London's U.S. Embassy revealed of 600 British Muslim students polled, 40% want to replace British law with sharia.

--- Alyssa A. Lappen
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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 15, 2012 4:33:26 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 17, 2012 10:51:05 PM PST
Greetings Alyssa,

Thank you for providing a passionate review and some recent trends. I will likely purchase this book as I have Bostom's other two works you linked. However, other readers who are interested in this issue should also consult with one of the broadest research programs done on Muslims globally to date Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. One can see that generally Muslim views are much more subtle and balanced than the extremism that is advertised by a few.

Also, empirical studies that discuss Islam and violence to a significant degree along with noting the complex secular motives with similar phenomenon are Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism and The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. A good comparison can be made with a detailed study on multiple cultures and abuses of power Death by Government.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2012 5:43:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 17, 2012 6:23:21 PM PST
Thank you for your kind words, which are most welcome. I'm sure you'll find Dr. Bostom's new work of interest and use.

I'm sorry to disagree, but I do not think that John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed have anything to add to enlightening discourse. Both have proved themselves to be major dissemblers. As to their motives, I cannot but surmise. Nevertheless, neither tells the truth about popular and majority Muslim world opinion --- in support of sharia totalitarianism and execution for apostasy from Islam, for starters. The numbers in support of those ideas are hardly a small minority, as poll after poll after poll has shown, definitively.

The other titles you suggest are similarly divorced from reality, in my view. Those interested in studying sharia law should also consider An Introduction to Islamic Law, War and Peace in the Law of Islam, The Islamic Conception of Justice --- definitely not Esposito et al.

Thank you again for your kind words.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2012 8:16:31 PM PST
Thank you for your kind words as well. I hear you on Esposito and Mogahed, but since they did their work with Gallup and since their pooled data was from the Gallup World Poll I think their results do provide much insight to how Muslims think of themselves and others. I found them to be pretty objective and honest in their findings. Poll data can always be interpreted in different ways, but it seems pretty clear that Muslims who desire Sharia Law do not have a totalitarian and abusive version in mind.

I would recommend reading a current research article: Chaves, Mark. 2010. SSSR Presidential address rain dances in the dry season: Overcoming the religious congruence fallacy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 49(1):1-14. This article discusses incogruency that people have in their beliefs and behaviors - meaning that what people do does not always follow in a cohesive fashion from what they believe nor do beliefs manifest into certain behaviors or attitudes automatically in a consistent direction.

The other sources I recommended are excellent empirical studies on similar issues and show the complexity behind actions (religious and secular). I used to be more alarmist against Islamic "government" a few years ago, but it is pretty clear to me now that behaviors cannot be reduced to mere beliefs or be blamed on simple readings of sacred texts or on the words of a leader. Individuals are much more complex than this and their foundations for their religious and secular schemas/identities are usually incongruent and very experiential. For instance, most Muslims I have interacted with (even those in Mosques and in the MSA) don't have bad intentions towards others even though some were labeled as "fundamentalist" type by others.

I know some Muslims have strong views on punishments, but seeing how other poorer countries are way too lax or corrupt in dealing with crime like Mexico and El Salvador, its understandable that Muslims from poor countries too would have these kinds of feelings. People lose a lot more in poor countries than in wealthy ones. Interestingly, Muslims are not the only ones desiring strong punishments, people from Mexico and El Salvador have shown similar willingness of using strong punishments because "human rights" and the secular governments seem to provide criminals and narcos with more protections and privileges rather than the victims. I think the desires for Sharia Law today may be a reflection of poorer communities wanting to restore some balance and create some sense of equality in the midst of economic and social inequality.

I hope this contributes to your fruitful comments and I will buy a copy of this book soon thanks your review and comments. Either way, keep up the passionate reviews!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 8:59:58 PM PST
W. Martin says:
Can you please tell me what version of sharia law is not totalitarian and abusive? Haven't read it yet but I am ordering it, just wish that it came in Kindle version. I have Andy's other two.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 9:11:40 PM PST
W. Martin says:
Can you please tell me what version of sharia law is not totalitarian and abusive? Haven't read it yet but I am ordering it, just wish that it came in Kindle version. I have Andy's other two.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2012 12:44:08 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 17, 2012 11:11:29 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2012 11:50:50 PM PST
W. Martin says:
Mr. Ramos,

You avoided my question, instead you give me what you thought were opinions of Muslims on Sharia. We as Kafir (assuming you are not Muslim) need not worry what the Umma thinks Sharia is but what the mujtahids (scholars) say it is and how it relates to us.

Your statement:

"It has been and still is being developed as much of the materials for it come from multiple sources including cultural opinions."
Makes it sound like this material is ambiguous, that mujtahids can pull material out of thin air, which is definitely not the case. You see Sharia comes from three sources Qur'an, Sirat Rassul Allah, and Hadith, namely Sahih Bukari and Sahih Muslim.

You said " Sharia is not developed by systemic reading of theological texts (most never do this at all), but on personal experiences and cultural understandings"

On the contrary the mujtahids do read the text, if you read a manual on fiqh you will see that they quote source.

And the consensus of the mujtahids is legally binding, once there is ruling there is no longer debate. The Umma can't just change it.

Here is what it says in my copy of Umdat Al-Salik (Reliance of The Traveller) Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law

According to al-Misri:

b 7.2 When the four necessary integrals of consensus exist, the ruling agreed upon is an authoritative part of Sacred Law that is obligatory to obey and not lawful to disobey. Nor can mujrahids [scholars] of a succeeding era make the thing an object of new ijtihad [Islamic legal opinion], because the ruling on it, verified by scholarly consensus, is an absolute legal ruling which does not admit of being contravened or annulled.

Page 23-24

So as for committing `"reification fallacies"' I don't think I need to worry.....

As for Muslim opinion.....

Islam isn't made up of Muslim opinion it is made up of Muhammad's opinion. Islam is Muhammad and Muhammad is Islam. Muhammad is central to Islam. He is the one to be like, to follow, Osama Bin Ladin was the Consummate Muslim.

As for surprises the only thing I find surprising (and sad) is peoples unusual desire to make Sharia something friendly to be embraced or accepted like it's a good thing.

There is very little religion in Islam, it is mostly a political ideology.

W. Martin

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 11:32:20 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 11:36:16 AM PST
Thorough -- and creepy -- review. Thanks. I'm a firm fan of Popper's "Open Society" and Arendt's "The Origins of Totalitarianism," and it occured to me while reading Ibn Warraq's "Why I Am Not a Muslim" that he was doing something similar with Islam. Matter of fact he quotes Popper frequently. What they were all driving at, I suspect, is that once monotheism and Plato's "idealism" are assumed, the totalitarian temptation becomes inevitable.

I'll be sure to buy this one.

And come to think of it -- Hitler's affinity for Islam, and vice versa, are by now well known, but I don't think anyone has pointed out in print the odd similarity between Islam and Marxism. Both claim to be utopian philosophies that will bring on the universal brotherhood of man, peace through world-wide apocalyptic violence at the behest of the elite. This utopia can be reached only after abolishing what most people assume to be a natural human right -- private property on the part of Marxism, religious freedom on the part of Islam. Problem -- once you've abolished one right for "the common good," why stop? The result is that even the most moderate Muslim, whether he knows it or not, is carrying "1984" inside his subconscious, a place where slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength, war is peace, and Big Mohammed is watching you.

Much as I hate to say it, I think Irshad Manji's project for a Muslim Reformation won't bear fruit in my lifetime. If it ever happens, it will only be after appalling amounts of Muslim blood spilled by other Muslims.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 1:09:37 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 7:56:09 PM PST
W. Martin says:
Greetings Mr. Ramos,

Your statement "primary source material from the earliest sources do not necessarily represent popular sentiment or beliefs either" is irrelevant. Sharia is totalitarian it covers everybody, Muslim and Kafir alike it doesn't matter what the masses think or believe or want because Sharia is the law. Ask your average Iranian if they like the way they live or agree with sharia and they will tell you (as long as they know they be caught) they hate it. Islam is really a male driven ideology.

My original question was "Can you please tell me what version of sharia law is not totalitarian and abusive?"

The answer is none, Sharia is totalitarian and abusive.

W.L. Martin
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