and has written a stinging response, “Defender of the wrong faith”:
Holy Smoke and Mirrors
Karen Armstrong is a comically conceited feminist ex-nun who has assumed the duty of defending Islam from its critics. Yesterday’s Financial Times carried her review of an unflattering biography of Mohammed by the American Catholic scholar Robert Spencer.
Armstrong went ballistic. She is herself the author of a sanitised life of “the Prophet” (as she calls him, despite not being a believer) that she grandly offered as “a gift to the Muslim people”.
She accused Spencer of “writing in hatred” and said he “deliberately manipulates the evidence”. By the end of the day, Spencer had hit back online. Very hard. We have the beginnings of a mighty feud here, and I know whose side I am on.
According to Armstrong, “When discussing Mohammed’s war with Mecca, Spencer never cites the Koran’s condemnation of all warfare as an ‘awesome evil’.” There’s a reason for that, replies Spencer: the Koran doesn’t quite say that.
Writing on his website Jihadwatch yesterday, Spencer challenged his readers to find the relevant verse. Someone did. It’s 2:217, and it refers specifically to warfare in the “sacred month”, and then only to say that the prohibition can be set aside. So who is manipulating evidence here?
Armstrong reckons that descriptions of Islam that focus on its warlike origins are like “a description of Christianity based on the bellicose Book of Revelation that failed to mention the Sermon on the Mount.”
That is an unbelievably fatuous and sloppy analogy. The violence of Revelation springs from the imagination: it’s a literary apocalypse. It doesn’t describe any real events. Mohammed was a general whose army beheaded its captives: that’s a fact. The Muslim scriptures urge warfare against unbelievers and apostates; the Christian scriptures preach non-violence.
* We have long kept an eye on the barking mad Karen Armstrong and the rabid ‘revert’ Ivonne Ridley, we are watching Esposito & Co., and we will keep exposing those who aid and abet the enemy at a time of war.
We will continue to do so.
When reading through the comments section of this Damian Thompson article, you’ll find this:
a brief history
The silly comparisons most of you are indulging in seem to reiterate the sempiternal eurocentric mistake. You characterize the inhabitants of Muslim lands – and this is the big mistake of Mr. Spencer and the reason for which other scholars do not take him seriously – in a unidimensional facet. Everything they do seems to be because of their religion. You seem to forget that they are also human beings just like us who have invented things, written books, produced philosophy, music, movies and most of them go about living their lives, going to work and going to work, not worrying about your pseudo-theological quarrels.
To give you an example of the error you are committing, let us say that an ignorant Muslim regards the inhabitants of historically judeo-christian nations in the same unidimensional way. He might argue that Christianity was responsible for :
the first, second, and third wars of religion,
but also the reign of terror,
the 100 year’s war,
World War I (20 million victims)
World War II (60 million victims)
and the list could go on and on and on
Now you might correctly argue that most of these wars were not religious and you might even debatably argue that even the wars of religion were not religious.
But why would the ignorant Muslim care, if they all happened in “Christian” nations? The moral here is that before you utter some nonsense, please read your history books before saying that Islam was responsible for :
“The Crusades – obviously
Most of the times, the reasons are geo-political, economic, or ethno-tribal. Religion is often used to rally the troops, and this is what Robert Spencer stubbornly fails to understand.
karen at 30 Apr 2007 19:50
And I wonder if that ‘karen’ is Karen Armstrong.
Posted by: Spirit Of 1683 at April 30, 2007 03:56 PM
* Rarely does one come across such idiocy. How anyone can come up with such drivel beggars belief. But if it is indeed written by Karen Armstrong it would merely confirm that the ex-nun doesn’t have her faculties intact.
Christopher Howse from the Telegraph:
The mosque at Cordoba was built on the site of a church
Miss Armstrong can look after herself in her row with the critic of Islam, Robert Spencer.
But I must say I was annoyed by another claim she made in her review of Spencer’s book. This is something one hears all the time. “In Muslim Spain,”
she wrote, “relations between the three religions of Abraham were uniquely harmonious in medieval Europe.”
This is simply not true. The centuries between the Muslim invasion of Spain in 711 and the reconquest of their last enclave in 1492 were characterised by warfare, double-dealing, opportunist alliances, expropriation, punitive taxation and persecution.
The nearest that Islamic Spain got to a peace-loving polity was the Caliphate of Cordoba, which existed between 929 and 1031, just over 100 years out of more than 700 years of occupation.
Its political status rested on dubious ground, for its founder claimed to be Caliph of the whole world from his stronghold in Spain, when there was already a Caliph in Baghdad. The Fatimids in North Africa also claimed the Caliphate in rivalry to Cordoba.
The mosque at Cordoba, that great beauty of world architecture, was built on the site of the church of St Vincent, demolished to make way for it. In the early years after the Muslim invasion, Christians had been allowed to worship in part of the cathedral site, all their other churches having been demolished at the conquest. But under the Ummayyads, the founders of the Caliphate of Cordoba, the Christians had to relinquish their part of St Vincent’s.
Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, it was not just the Christians of northern Spain who fought to gain territory. The 10th-century de facto ruler of the caliphate, al-Mansur, fought expansionist wars, sacking Barcelona in 985 and Santiago in 997. He had already defeated his father-in-law in battle, with Muslims and Christians fighting on both sides.Â That is unique harmony of a sort.
After the collapse of the Caliphate in civil war, things got no better. There is a statue in Cordoba to Moses Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher. But Maimonides and his family had to flee Spain to escapeÂ persecution by the ruling Muslim dynasty.
The 12th-century Muslim thinker, Ibn-Rushd, known as Averroes to Christian philosophers, who took him very seriously, was also banished from the Spanish peninsula by the intolerant Almohad rulers.
I suppose if you had to choose which Muslim regime to live under in the Middle Ages, the Caliphate of Cordoba would be a good choice, but let’s not pretend it was a secular liberal state.