Book Review: Islam and Terrorism by Mark A. Gabriel
I was given to read Islam and TerrorismӔ by Mark A. Gabriel, Ph.D., by Girgis Hafzalla, an analyst working for the FBI who made it fairly clear that he believed that Islam is an evil, nasty faith as are all of its followers. He thought the book would present certain irrefutable truths to me that might help me re-think Islam.
The book (219 pages plus reference pages) is published by a Christian evangelist (I assume) organization called Charisma House out of Florida. It appears that the publishing house (Strang Communications Company) is associated with Florida Christian University.
In his forward, J. Lee Grady, the Editor of Charisma Magazine clearly states that Islam is the overwhelming evil at loose in the worldӔ. He is also clear about his views that while the 9-11 tragedy was perpetrated by nineteen people, the criminal is IslamӔ. I tried to keep an open mind about the book before and during the time I was reading it, but I soon found it hard to do so. Beginning with the title of the book which gave a strong indication of the direction where it was heading, to the pages that followed, it was a non-stop diet of Islamophobic, misleading writing; I stopped reading after 95 pages.
On one hand people like the editor Grady and the author Gabriel claim to be Christians and decry Islam because they state that Christianity is ALL about love and forgiveness. On the other hand they seem to stand front and center in judging and condemning Islam; in being parties to spreading hate and incorrect information against Islam and Muslims.
The author, Dr. Mark Gabriel, PhD., is a scholar of Islam; he has taught Islam and discussed it with many other scholars. As such, his information should be impeccably accurate however, there are so many fallacies and distortions in his work that one is forced to come to the conclusion that his purpose for writing his book was not to discuss Islam from a point of view of truth rather, it was to twist and malign Islam in order to further his personal goals of self-promotion. There is just no way for me to believe that anyone can have so many errorsӔ of understanding unless s-he is bent on proving a lie.
I will now discuss a few of the details in the book that resembles a string of deliberately edited misquotes from the Quran more than it represents a factual critique.
The book opens (p.2) with a discussion of the authors sermon about jihad, but the description of jihad is incomplete and includes Christians and Jews among infidels. Islam accepts Jews and Christians as well as any other religion that accepts the One God, as Muslims, thus to call Christians and Jews ғinfidels defies Gods command to accept them as believers.
In the same section he appears to be confusing Islam the faith with the violent people who commit violence in the name of Islamԅeven then he acknowledges that his superiors and tutors were telling him to preach that Islam is love and kindness. He continues by quoting (p. 3) his Muslim friendӔ who claimed that Christians did not pay Jaziya tax so they could not practice their beliefs in Egypt and thus, they must be killed. Only a fool or someone totally immersed in painting Islam as a demonic faith would give this passage any credence. Egypt does NOT have Jaziya tax so Christians would not be in a position to pay it even if they wanted to and nowhere is it written that the punishment for those who do not pay Jaziya is death. Gabriel displays his own lack of moral conviction by not challenging such an ignorant and brutal comment on the basis of the Quran itself.
Page 4. Somehow, Gabriel has twisted this as commands from God to kill Christians unless they convert or pay taxes..The reference is to those who have been informed of the One god and reject the message and wage war on Muslims. The Quran does say in 9:29 to fight against such people until they are defeated and agree to pay the required taxes.
Page 5. Although Gabriel should know that the God of Islam (AllahӔ is only one of his many Arabic names but there are innumerable names if one includes other languages) is the same as the God of Abraham which is also the God of the Christians. Yet he insists on dismissing the Islamic reference to God by using the lower case, a childish action in my opinion.. Gabriel claims that the Quran states in 6:39 that God desires to lead people astrayӔ. If one reads that passage, it is clear that God is saying that those people who deny Him, will be sent astray but He will save whom He wills ӅThus Allah layeth ignominy upon those who believe not.
He goes on to claim that ԓhatred is built into the religion. This is an astounding statement coming from someone who claims to have studied Islam at all, let alone to the extent that he seems to have done. The exhortations in the Quran to love one another and to forgive, to show mercy and the help one another are ubiquitous. Even as he claims that ԓIslam was my special area of study he goes on to say that its history ԓcould only be characterized as a river of blood! One only needs to compare the histories of Muslim conquerors with those of Hindus, Jews, Christians or any other religion, to see that the ԓriver of blood label should attach elsewhere. I will not lower this already low level of allegations by Gabriel by bringing the low points of other faiths to the fore as a means to improve IslamԒs position.
Page 14.. He asks rhetorically if God was an animal like the cow of the HindusӔ. For someone who has a PhD in religion, Gabriel shows an abysmal knowledge of other faiths. Hinduism is ALSO a monotheistic faith although not an Abrahamic faith. Hindus believe in ONE GOD who has many manifestations.
Page 15. He claims that he read Matthew 5:38 where it says, you have heard ӑeye for eye and tooth for tooth but I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone should strike you on the right cheek, turn to him the other alsoҔ. Upon reading it his whole body began trembling. I had studied the Quran my whole life-not once did I find words as inspiring as thisӔ.
In the Quran, verse 42:40 God says, The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): But if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God: For God loves not those who do wrongӔ. I guess Gabriel was dozing when that section was being taught.
Page 17. I cannot speak for Gabriels father but I can say with confidence that neither Islam nor ғIslamic culture (whatever THAT is) prevents a man from wearing jewelry. There are some strict interpretations of Islam by people who may claim that even the styles of clothing are defined in Islam but such strict doctrinaires are to be found in every faith.
Page 19. Gabriel says, ԓIt is the teachings of Islam that have produced terrorists who seem capable of any kind of evil in the name of Allah. Truth is obviously an impediment in GabrielԒs focus; I have not yet found a religion that promotes or condones terrorism however, history is replete with examples of people of every religion who do horrible things to others in the name of their religion. To claim that Islam is the guilty one among all other faiths is to ignore facts. On the other hand, ranking terrible deeds done in the name of one religion with similar or worse deeds in another is to join the battle in a sewer and I am not willing to do so.
Page 24. Gabriel quotes a sheikh (better known as the blind sheikh now imprisoned in the US) at Al-Azhar University as saying, My borther, there is a whole surah called :Spoils of warӒ. There is no surak called Peaceђ. Jihad and killing are the head of Islam. If you take them out, you cut off the head of Islam.
I cannot believe anyone with even a basic knowledge of Islam would say such a thing especially since ԓAl-Anfal (Surak 8, ԓThe Spoils) takes its name form the first verse only in which God says the spoils of victory belong to God and His messenger. The chapter says that only a fifth is to be apportioned to God, his messenger, the needy, the orphans and the wayfarers. It explains that victory of a tiny Muslim group of less than 313 against over 600 better equipped men, is because of GodԒs help. I do not know how or why any scholar of Islam would claim Jihad and killing are the head of IslamӔ when the entire Quran is filled with exhortations by God to show mercy, forgive; to be compassionate and to love one another.
Page 25. Contrary to the authors claims, the Quran is the only and over-riding source of instruction and belief in Islam. All other sources, even the revered Hadith cannot stand if they are contrary to the instructions in the Quran.
Pages 26-27. In Islam, a Muslim must do good works if he is to hope for Heaven so Gabriel is correct when he states that it is a religion based on the works of the Muslim. Hoever, he manages to twist even this concept by saying ғThere is no guarantee of Paradise even if you do good works all your life. It all depends on what Allah decides. In Islam, we believe that while good works will help us get to Heaven, only God can decide how He will deal with us. By saying such a thing we do NOT mean He is capricious; rather, we mean that His will be done, no matter what. To claim a right to Heaven would be too arrogant and would thus negate all the good we do.
Page 28. ԓThe only way to know for sure that you will get into Paradise is to dies in JihadŔ. The author seems to be so intent on spreading hate against Islam that he takes Quranic verses out of context in order to showӔ them as supporting his theses. In this case, he first mal-interprets Jihad which actually means struggle on the path of righteousness, not some self-proclaimed cause by a twisted mind. Then he states that anyone who dies in Jihad is guaranteed a place in heaven; actually on God will decide who will go to Heaven. Nevertheless, this is no different than similar interpretations in Christianity and Judaism where martyrs are made into saints and believed to go straight to Heaven. Finally, his citation of Surah 8:39 is completely false; this Surah follows 8:38 which states that there will be peace if the unbelievers (people who do not believe on one God) cease to persecute the believers otherwise they will be fought (8:39) until they cease their evil actions (of persecution).
Gabriel tries to support his position that Jihad means killing and war in Islam and so he quotes Surah 9:89. He neglects to mention that this Surah too, is part of a series that exhort people to fight with their wealth and even their lives in the way of righteousness. Once more, this is no different than in all other faiths that ask the righteous to not be tied to material possessions and help the path of good.
Page 30. Gabriel would like to portray Islam as restricting women by forcing them to cover themselves and staying at home. The only reference that I am aware of in the Quran for women to cover themselves is 24:31 which follows 24:30. The latter tells men to cover themselves in a modest manner while the former states the same for women. Women are permitted in Islam, to run business of their own and have the rights that are almost the same as men (differing in only a few minor points).
Again and again Gabriel tries to prove his false point that Islam is based on violence. He cites Surah 9:5 as the verse of the sword and it explains that Muslims must fight anyone who chooses not to convert to IslamӅ In fact, this verse is part of a series of verses that re-state obligations under treaties already signed; that there are no obligations towards those who are idolaters however, if an idolater should seek sanctuary that Muslims are obliged to protect him and convey him to a place of safety.
Page 33. The author begins his new chapter (ԓHoly War in the Quran) with partial quotes from two verses of the Quran, both of which are deliberately taken out of context and cut so as to prove his false premise.
The first verse (4:89) refers to people (ԓhypocrites)who pretend to be Muslim even as they are covertly support the enemies of Muslims. The verse states that if those hypocrites become allied with the enemy then they must be killed.
The second verse (47:4) states that when a Muslim should meet a disbeliever (in one God) on the battlefield, then the Muslims should kill him or take him prisoner until the war is over and then release him either for ransom or as a gesture of goodwill. The complete verse obviously does not support GabrielԒs point so he truncates it until it does.
Page 34. He states that revelations about Jews were never positive. It appears that he has not done any study of Islam or the Quran. In 2:136 God says that all prophets (including Mohammed, Jesus, Moses etc.,) are equal in the eyes of God. In 2:62 God says that any who believe in the Quran and the Jewish and Christian scriptures and all the other holy books God revealed, shall have his rewards. In 5:68 God says to mankind that you have nothing of faith unless you believe in the Torah, the Gospel and the other revelations.
Page 35. Gabriel quotes 8:39 as telling Muslims to kill everybody who does not believe in AllahӔ as if AllahӔ is some strange diety. In fact firstly, Allah is the same as the God of Abraham and thus, the God of Jesus. Secondly, this is a repeat of Gabriels favorite tactic of taking verses out of context and in small part so as to support his false arguments. This verse actually follows one that states that all Muslims must try and stop the unbelievers from persecuting Muslims however, if they persist in their persecutions then the unbelievers who fight, must be killed until there is no more war (Gabriel substituted the word ғwar with ԓdisbelief thus changing the intent completely).
I could continue with page after page of his book containing misquotes and partial quotes and twisting of phrases from the Quran so that by the time the readers is done, s-he is convinced there could be no faith as deceitful, violent and wicked as Islam and surely the followers of Islam cannot be related to humans?
By the time you have read my review of GabrielԒs hate-mongering book, you should get the idea that Gabriel is a hypocrite whose only goal seems to be to foster hate towards Islam and Muslims by spreading misinformation.
I encourage you to not simply take my word for what I have written but read the citations of the Quran as I have presented them and compare them to the ones to be found in the Quran. THEN compare them to the partial misquotes that Gabriel has provided in his book and draw your own conclusions. I request you to please correct me if you find any errors on my part so that I may learn to be more accurate.
I thank you for your patience in reading my analysis this far; perhaps you will sympathize a little with me when I remind you that I actually studied through ninety-five pages from the book of Gabriels fantasies before I was too disgusted to continue.
by courtesy & copyright 2005 The American Muslim republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.