Customer Review

245 of 267 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bold, judicious, scholarly, April 9, 2012
This review is from: Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins (Hardcover)
I read this book in manuscript, and found it intellectually provocative, scrupulously evidence-based, and gracefully written. The thesis it explores is one that has been too little considered by English-language scholars: What are the reliable historical grounds for crediting the canonical narrative of the origin of Islam? For centuries, Christians and Jews have seen their respective sacred scriptures subjected to deconstruction and skepticism, while Islam received almost a "free pass." Not every skeptical treatment of scriptures has been disinterested or honest, of course. Scholars are human beings, and they have their own motives. Indeed, the analysis of Jewish/Christian scriptures by men like Hobbes and Locke was strongly motivated by their irreligious agendas. Readers of Spencer's other books will know in advance what his stance is: He worries about the political aspirations of those Muslims who are religiously intolerant, and calls on Muslims to embrace religious pluralism--while candidly acknowledging the problems this would pose for orthodox Muslims. For this, he is falsely labeled a bigot or even a "racist" (as if Islam, a world religion, were some ethnic cult). In this new book, Spencer examines the almost shocking thesis: What is Islamic revelation was an afterthought, a narrative created AFTER the Arab conquests of the Near East, to give the new ruling elite an ideological pretext for power. Historians will have to continue conducting research, under adverse conditions (Saudi Arabia, for instance, does not welcome infidel archaeologists) to see how much merit there is in this thesis. But the book is certainly well worth reading.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 10, 2012 7:40:23 PM PDT
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Posted on Apr 26, 2012 9:08:01 AM PDT
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