“Questioning Islam” by Townsend– A Review

The blind spot of the West in regards to Islam has been going on since the rise of the Muslim invaders in the 7th century. Muslims attacked and captured Jerusalem from the Byzantines even while they debated whether they were, in reality, a new cult of Christianity. There is little doubt that the ambivalence and uncertainty of the West have served Islam well in its many military campaigns over the last 1400 years.
Peter Townsend is attempting to arm us, protecting us from the misinformation and disinformation which have plagued our political institutions, most recently, from the fall of the last caliphate in Istanbul over a century ago. The Ottomans fell, probably more of a century-long dwindle, when the sultan retreated from the path demanded by the prophet: conquer until all submit.
Questioning Islam is a valuable tool in the education of the culture. Townsend, rather than engaging in a polemic for the West, examines the claims and the basic documents of the Muslim faith itself. Without reference to other belief systems he looks at what teachings are basic to Islam and how the Muslim believer formulates his world view.
It is not pretty. The Qur’an is held out to be the faithful as the very words of the creator deity, pure and “perfect in (its Arabic) language,” complete in its conceit and execution, and unsullied in its transmission. However, despite an empire-wide effort to burn all deviant copies in the eighth century, the fundamental document of Islam is revealed to be a hodge-podge of plagiarized sentiments (primarily Jewish), self-serving and convenient “revelations” to benefit only Mohammad in his venereal pursuits, and a high degree of plain old-fashioned bloody-mindedness. It is enough to make an Arab blush and apparently did. There are multiple examples where the companions of Mohammad wished to reduce, or at least limit, the rapine only to be urged back into the carnage by Mohammad.
Rather than being in the “purest Arabic” there are many words taken from the patois of seventh-century trade. Some words are completely indecipherable, yet supposedly sent from God via Mohammad as the end and culmination of all wisdom. Whole sections are known to be missing due to the dietary indiscretions of a family goat. Instead of being the highest form of literature the Qur’an amounts to a rag-tag assemblage of political and self-serving edicts. It documents not so much eternal verities as it does the rise of Islam from a despised minority, requesting tolerance, to a military Ponzi scheme demanding submission or blood.
The hadiths, i.e. traditions, providing the basic framework of what is now Islam, are obviously critical in understanding the faith. It is an inconvenient fact that none of the hadiths were written down within two hundred years of Mohammad’s death. Moreover by that time, the great schism had occurred, dividing Islam into the Sunni and Shi’a traditions. Hadiths conflict with each other both with and without each community. Mohammad, held out to be a “perfect example of conduct,” can only be glimpsed via these hadiths and what is shows of him is grasping, vacillating, and sanguinary religious tyrant.
Questioning Islam is extensively documented, with long passages from the original documents reproduced within the endnotes. Author Townsend has done a remarkable job in organizing a difficult subject topically. This leads to some redundancies which may, at time, strike readers are being overdone. Despite that, it is a very fast read. This should be required reading for anyone who is exposed to Islam. Today, that includes us all.

“America is wrong all the time and all the time America is wrong”–the facts of Moral Equivalency

We Americans have, on occasion, gotten on our collective “high horse” to comment on the mistakes of other countries in prolonging and perpetuating grievances of the past.

We, I mean the American government of Bush-39, inserted ourselves into the Northern Ireland crisis in part to “heal” the wounds of sectarianism.

We Americans cheered when South Africa abandoned Apartheid in the 1980’s.

We clucked at the Israelis and Palestinians fail to come to a compromise, unable as we are to imagine what that compromise might look like.

We chivvy the Armenian’s when they act unwilling to embrace the Turks because of the genocide carried out by Turkey on their people during World War I.

We cluck at Indonesians who are wary of Japanese intentions.

We actively chide Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, both now wielding nukes.

We roll our eyes when Peruvians and Ecuadorians have a border dispute.

We laugh when Irish-Americans feel led to protest a British ship docking in New York harbor.

We think them all to be churlish, childish, dangerous and daft, modern day feuding in-laws who cannot forget an ancient slight.

“Can’t we all just get along?” said Jack Nicholson, as an American president, in some easily forgettable space opera satire.

The reasons we can’t “all get along” are numerous and far outside the limits of this essay. What is currently most interesting is the evocation by our current president to ancient facts as an equivalent and pardon for current Islamist atrocities.

Let’s take a look at what the “best orator that ever lived”[i] had to say at a Washington prayer breakfast, certainly not supposed to be a contentious gathering.

Barack Hussein Obama stated that:

“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.[ii]

Let’s take this apart. The point, as I understand it, is that we can’t get upset at the ISIS savages for acting as their religion allows and encourages[iii]. Barack Hussein makes a point of saying that we should not think religious terror is unique to “other places.” Of course, the first two examples, “our most gifted orator” gave, as illustrations, were indeed “some other place” and, in fact, some other time, as well. I am pretty confident that no American participated in the Crusades or the Inquisition, Spanish or otherwise.

Although I will presume most people, having discounted the Obamaian hyperbole, nonetheless, accept the conjecture. So be it.

Just so that we have something to compare: in 2014, in Syria alone ISIS killed over 17,000 non-combatants, many by beheading and many after brutal rapes.


Barack Hussein claims these are equivalent in atrocity to:


Spanish Inquisition

American Slavery

Jim Crow

I am aware that these accusations are trotted out every time someone wants to make Moral Ambivalence equations; I am. I really, really am.

But just for a change, let’s look at the data.

Humor me.

The crusades, a term unknown at the time, represented a bunch of military campaigns, done for a variety of motives, by a variety of nations from England to Poland in places that range from Portugal to Persia and covered a period from 1095 to 1453. In that year, the last effort tried to prevent the capture of the city of Constantinople, built by and inhabited only by Christians. The sack of Constantinople and the rape, enslavement and murder of its population, ended the Roman Empire.

None of the places that the crusaders attacked, if one bothers to look, was outside the Roman Empire’s holdings, the Ecumene. So the lands conquered, containing many Christians, had previously been conquered by Muslim military campaigns in the past. These Muslim campaigns were strictly expansionary and mercantile ventures, meant to aggrandize and enrich the men who fought and their backers, by Qur’anic law. They were jihads, holy wars, not meant to avenge abuses to the Prophet, but to extend Islam by conquest, and make a lot of money in the process. These conquests only ended when the Ottoman caliphate seemed to lose their genius in the 17th century, after nearly conquering Vienna, Austria.

The last “crusade[iv]” was over 500 hundred years ago. Twenty-eight generations of people have come and gone since then. The Muslim invaders have, with the exception of Spain and the Balkans, been able to keep what they killed. Whatever Barack Hussein, the son and step-son of Muslims, thinks about the wisdom of a crusade is beside the point. Get over it…you guys won!

Secondly, let’s look at the Spanish Inquisition, the shibboleth of Christian bogeymen. The Spanish Crown established it because Spain had finally started to reconquer its original land, taking it back from, guess whom…the Muslims. Overnight, Muslims and some Jews wanted to convert to Christianity. Their sincerity was questioned, as it should have been. Church membership is hardly a civil right, then or now. It was established in 1478 and abolished in 1834.

Without going into a great detail and only looking at the period 1540 to 1700 when it was most active, the number of deaths attributable to the Spanish Inquisition is estimated to be 1303, at a minimum. Let’s quadruple that, in case someone thinks this is being too lenient with the nasty old Inquisition. Over 5000 human beings were “relaxed” to the secular arm of the government that did the actual executions and killed by burning, or strangulation. That is a real tragedy, aided and abetted by the Roman Catholic Church against those whose only sin might have been a grandfather’s faith. It is what it is. The work of modern scholarship, peeling away the horror of the ascendant Protestant West, of which I am a part, has been to moderate the impression,[v] however.

Regardless, the old SI, not in battle where all is fair, has done to death about 32 people a year. ISIS, only one Muslim jihadist group, has killed 17,100 human beings in one country during a single year, a ratio of 1:530. That heyday of religious carnage for the Spanish Inquisition, so often referenced it has become a cliché, was finished, again, over 500 years ago. Mr. Obama should have been complained about it, for maximal effect, sometime in the early 17th century, about 150 years before the birth of this country.

Next up, slavery. Firstly, it should be noted that American slavery got the essential goods, the poor black farmers of West Africa, from middlemen. There is very little evidence that Europeans or Americans went on piratical slave raids into pestilential territories. It was easier to have the Muslim Arabs, the traders on the Coast, get them for you. Jihads against animistic tribes was a primary business model for Muslims in coastal Africa from the 16th to the 19th century. This entrepreneurial venture became less promising only after Europeans suppressed the trade starting in 1807. Britain went to war against this abuse as recently as the Battle of Khartoum with Winston Churchill in tow. Many of the American colonies, at their establishment, vigorously opposed slavery. Georgia’s Oglethorpe contended that the New World was a place for the poor to get a new start, not a place to bring an Old World pestilence. Europeans imported almost 600,000 slaves to America between 1620 and 1865[vi]. That is about 2300 people a year. The USA had an average, based on census of 225,000 African-American slaves at any one time. God, much less the Christian God, was absent in the putative reason for slavery or its prosecution. While proselytizing was among the reasons for sending missionaries to countries, it was not proposed for capturing them and bringing them to America.

Contrary to what Mr. Obama has stated as fact, slavery was not a religious event; that is…until it was made so. It BECAME a religious event when efforts were made to abolish it. Then and only then did religious arguments follow the pocket books of the slave-owners. Contrary to Mr. Obama’s clumsy simile, it was Jesus’s church that brought an end to slavery in Europe, North, and South America. It remained in Africa and the Middle East unperturbed, safe inside the caliphate of Islam.

What about Islam? Jihadists are reminded, as they have done for 1400 years, that they are to enslave their victims[vii]. In the latter part of 2014 alone, three thousand women have been imprisoned, have suffered institutionalized rape and torture. These atrocities were done in the name of Allah and with his prophet’s approval.

Moving on.

Jim Crow is shorthand for the laws that unfairly prevented blacks from full citizenship in the Old South. Were Mr. Obama to look…and see, he should be able to observe the same oppression in ISIS today. He does call them names but among those names are not the ones they call themselves, Islamists. I think (he is so eloquent it is hard to tell), that what he meant here are lynchings. Here at last we have something to feel bad about. This WAS America. This is OUR history.

Let’s look at the data. They occurred from as far north as Pennsylvania, to my knowledge, to Corpus Christi and South Carolina to California.

The Tuskegee Institute has recorded 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites being lynched between 1882 and 1968, with the annual peak occurring in the 1890s, at a time of economic stress in the South and political suppression. The last was 1954, but none had occurred for years prior to that one last gasp. Good riddance. The motives for these killings have been evaluated intensively[viii]. Briefly, it was bad to be black in a county with a lot of other blacks and whites who were Democrats who owed you money. Religion has not been noted as a motive. The Klan did mete out their form of justice; it was rather more likely to be horse-whipping an adulterer than a lynching. Nevertheless, let’s look at the data: 66 poor people were murdered a year. Let’s say double that for the worst of it, 132.

Just for fun, let’s say the stain of sin departs by half with each generation. The Old Testament would not have it so. The supposedly harsh old law was: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.[ix]” But, I am willing to concede the point. I am sure Mr. Obama’s theology that “America is guilty all the time and all the time America is guilty,” is more enlightened. Nonetheless, the moral equivalency of the Spanish Inquisition, presuming we were Spain, is now 2% of a death per year. Our moral responsibility for lynching, if our forbearers were the swine that did this, is at worst a little over 4 per year.

Let’s say five deaths per year can be blamed on the USA collectively if we count the time since the beginning of the first millennium, 800 years prior to the start of the country.

Where is the moral equivalency?

Those who are ethically bankrupt seem to think that by saying all evil is absolute evil they can shrug off the implication of judgments and the demands of justice. The current evil glories in its historic and religiously mandated savagery. Seventeen thousand deaths, three thousand enslaved, raped and tortured in 2014 is not equivalent to all the examples that Barack Hussein, the son of a Muslim and the step-son of a Muslim, can muster. Even if we modern Americans would choose to accept the sins of some European antecedent, it amounts to likening dozens to thousands.

Mr. Obama, savages exist among us. To fail to identify them is to let them feed on more of the sheep. To say the sheep are savages because of some imagined or even real event in the past puts you in the same camp as all the grudge-fighters and family-feuders of the past. Moreover, despite your upbringing, you were not elected to be a Muslim, nor to spout their doctrine but rather to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The camouflage of moral equivalency is defunct and bogus on the surface of it. Get over it and understand who we are, we Americans, and do as you promised for US, if not for yourself and the judgment of history.


[ii] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/obama-criticised-for-telling-christians-to-get-off-high-horse-over-islamic-extremism-10030790.html

[iii] http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/08/muslim-cleric-justifies-islamic-state-beheadings-islam-is-a-religion-of-beheading

[iv] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades

[v] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition

[vi] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States

[vii] http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/isis-confirms-and-justifies-enslaving-yazidis-in-new-magazine-article/381394/

[viii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching_in_the_United_States

[ix] http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/24-16.htm