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The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims Hardcover – January 31, 2005

3.6 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spencer, author of Islam Unveiled, edits this collection that sets out to debunk the theory that Muslims are tolerant of non-Muslims. Although the theme merits exploration, this book does not clarify it. The essays' authors frequently cite jihad and dhimmi as intolerant principles within Islam, but do not define them. Vague references to these ideas do not explain why Islam is inherently intolerant. Several authors also quote the Qur'an out of context and describe Muslims with large generalizations. Yasser Arafat, of the PLO, is presented as representing Muslim attitudes—a characterization most Muslims would probably disagree with. Comments describing alleged troublesome behavior by Muslims lack sources and citations. Some authors ignore basic Islamic concepts; Bat Ye'or, for example, says that the dhimmi treatment was considered "justified by the superiority of the master-race," although the Qur'an strictly states though that all races are equal in Islam. The collection includes multiple essays by the same author, including 17 by Ye'or. The resulting repetition and monotone provide little insight and a disconnected feel. This book would have been more persuasive and less alarmist if it had excluded half the essays.
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From the Inside Flap

This enlightening collection of essays by some of the world's leading authorities on Islamic social history focuses on the pervasive legal and cultural oppression of non-Muslims in Islamic societies. The authors of these-in-depth but accessible articles explode the widely advocacy groups, of a largely tolerant, pluralistic Islam. In fact, the contributors lay bare the tyrannical legal superstructure that has treated non-Muslims in Muslim societies as oppressed and humiliated tributaries, and they show the devastating effects of these discriminatory attitudes and practices in both past and contemporary global conflicts.

The insightful chapters presented in THE MYTH OF ISLAMIC TOLERANCE explain how the legally mandated subjugation of non-Muslims under Islamic law stems from the Muslim concept of jihad--the spread of Islam through conquest. Historically, the Arab Muslim conquerors overran vast territories containing diverse non-Muslim populations. Many of these conquered people surrendered to Muslim domination under a special treaty called dhimma in Arabic. As such, these non-Muslim indigenous populations, mainly Christians and Jews, were then classified under Islamic law as dhimmis (meaning "protected"). Although protected status may sound benign, this classification in fact referred, most importantly, to "protection" from the resumption of the jihad against non-Muslims. The authors maintain that underlying this religious caste system is a culturally ingrained contempt for outsiders that still characterizes much of the Islamic world today and is a primary catalyst for jihad terrorism, jihadist-martyrdom bombers, and a Nazi-like racist antisemitism taught in school systems and propagated via the media.

Included are Ibn Warraq writing about Edward Said and the "intellectual turbans" he has placed on today's academic establishment, forestalling honest discussion about Islamic tolerance; Bat Ye'or on the devastating effects of the dhimma, the system that actually defines the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in Islamic states; Walid Phares on the little-noted oppression of Middle Eastern Christians; and much more--including a devastating series of articles by UN expert David G. Littman on the advancement of Islamic intolerance at the United Nations and other provocative topics usually ignored by Muslim apologists.

This hard-hitting and absorbing assessment of Islamic teachings and practices regarding non-Muslim minorities uncovers a significant human rights scandal that rarely receives any mention either in academic circles or in the mainstream press.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 594 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; n edition (January 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591022495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591022497
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alyssa A. Lappen VINE VOICE on April 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"A thing without a name escapes understanding," warns preeminent Islamic scholar Bat Ye'or of jihad and dhimmitude-the Islamic institutions of, respectively, war and perpetual servitude imposed on conquered non-Muslim peoples. Both, Ye'or notes in an essay entitled "Historical Amnesia," are in the process of globalization.

This is not the benign economic globalization that most Westerners laud. Islamic jihad and dhimmitude trade in every available means-military, political, technological and intellectual. And if the towering collection of 63 essays (including Ye'or's) contained in this new book is to be believed, these specific Islamic processes are globalizing at a disturbingly rapid pace. The book, courageously assembled by Robert Spencer, provides historical and contemporary profiles of jihad and dhimmitude.

In six sections, the book delineates how Islamic ideology has affected non-Muslims both historically and in the contemporary world. The first three sections cover the myth vs. historical realities and Islamic law and practice regarding non-Muslims. The last three sections cover how the myth of Islamic tolerance has affected contemporary geopolitics, power politics at the United Nations and, finally, academic and public discourse. It is Ibn Warraq's forward and the latter 400 pages in which this book really shines. He explains:

Islam is a totalitarian ideology that aims to control the religious, social and political life of mankind in all its aspects; the life of its followers without qualification; and the life of those who follow the so-called tolerated religions to a degree that prevents their activities from getting in the way of Islam in any way.
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Format: Hardcover
I've taken the time to read through all 45 (at this time) reviews of this book, and I discovered something quite fascinating. In essence, the vast majority of the reviewers all provide support for this book -- and I'm not just referring to the "5-star" reviews, but the "1-star, what an idiot" reviews, as well.

If you carefully read through the responses to this book, you'll note that almost all of the well-written, well-communicated reviews -- most from obviously learned individuals -- give high praise to the book. And the 1-star reviewers' comments quite often are a) much shorter, b) blast away mindlessly, with little support, and c) often have little more to say than "Oh yeah? Well, you're stupid!"

And I consider both of these to be quite insightful -- and very much in synch. (Kind of like listening to a calm, erudite, well-versed, well-spoken scientist explaining his disbelief in UFOs and alien landings, then hearing redneck Bubba talk about when "me and Ethel was just standin' out in the yard when this huge spaceship came and picked us right up off our feet", if you see my point.) To me, that's not a "one for, one against"; it's a "two for".

One reviewer even had the lack of understanding to comment on how "tolerant" Islam was, because "look at all the Muslims living in America". They can dress however they want, go to schools with the American children, work in American businesses, etc. Doesn't that show how tolerant Muslims are? (No, fool; it shows how tolerant AMERICANS are. To actually support your point, let's ask the question about whether Americans living in predominantly-Muslim countries can wear what they want, live as they want, believe what they want, etc. Women, try deplaning at the airport in Tehran in shorts and a T-shirt!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm an expatriate American. My wife and I live in a Muslim neighborhood in the southern part of Thailand. We ourselves have never experienced a scintilla of censure or even tension from our Muslim neighbors -- among whom we shop and with whom we interact every day, on the friendliest of terms.

But from our house we can hear the daily sermons broadcast fom the local mosque (in the Thai language --- very few Muslims speak the Arabic of the Q'uran) and what we hear is very disturbing. Local Muslims are told that all of Thailand (which is 75% Bhuddist) should become an Islamic state, and that loyalty to the King and/or Prime Minister is disloyaly to Allah. This does not happen every day --- but it happens too often to ignore.

After the tsunami we found that several Muslim groups had used the disaster to evict Bhuddist beach vendors, preventing them from rebuilding their businesses. The Muslims are organized around and encouraged by firebrands from the mosque --- the Bhuddists have no such support organization, so are easy prey.

I have read nearly all of Robert Spencer's books and articles. I have followed his detailed arguments online with Muslim scholars --- he is clear, reasoned, and precise. His books are more understated and balanced than his websites, which are ardent --- sometimes strident. Overall, his writings have encouraged me to do a little research of my own -- and I believe he knows what he is talking about. Read this book if you want to know what kind of future Islam has in mind for your children.
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