A few days ago, I learnt about a book "Prophet of Doom" by Craig Winn representing Islam as a religion of terror. The official site of the book explains how the author went about getting material for their book. If you go to Amazon and read the reviews, you will find many who simply love the book because "it opens their eyes" to Islam, and many who hate the book because it is against Islam. The book's website contains quite a lot of anti-Islamic material and many slanders against Quran, which I am not going to address — one thing I would add though is that after reading what he had to say about Quran, I am convinced the author did not understand it at all in the first place to be able to do justice with it. For instance, he claims that if Muslims "were to shed their yoke of ignorance", and read Quran, they "would also discover that the Qur’an is poorly written. There are countless meaningless words, foreign words, and missing words which is why translations differ so significantly — everyone is guessing as to what Muhammad thought Allah was trying to say."
I am a student of Arabic and by no means an expert on classical Arabic. Nonetheless, with my level of Arabic, I can vouch that this is not true at all. In fact, most of the language of Quran is quite simple and the text is simpler than most modern standard Arabic text I have come across — however, I will save this discussion for a later day.
The fundamental flaw that I see with the methodology of the author is the way he has understood Islam. He earlier wrote a book titled, "Tea with Terrorists," which explains how he initially learnt about this religion:
"Winn and Power went to the source, daring to meet face to face with terrorists: al Qaeda, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad - an encounter faithfully recounted in the title chapter."
The whole problem with both these books is that they are an understanding of the terrorists, who have an agenda and they want to achieve that. And the percentage of such people is small amongst Muslims. A billion and a half Muslims and most of them are not only living peacefully in many Western countries but also contributing heavily to the societies. I only wish the author had also made all this effort to find out why those who oppose terrorism do so even though both groups read exactly the same scripture? But unfortunately, that has not happened, and what this book is doing is promoting a terrorists' manipulated version of Quran and Islam! Consequently, I wrote them a letter (I am attaching below) but haven't received a response to date.
Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2007 1:32 AM
Subject: Terrorists as the source of Islam?
May peace be upon you,
I came across the website and read about the book ‘prophet of doom’. From what I have understood so far, Craig Winn chose to interview terrorists, and published their version of Islam in his book. I wish he had taken the effort to interview those Muslims (like myself) who have studied Quran, hadith, sira and tarikh and still not only believe but also preach, to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, that Islam does not allow terrorism and condemns terrorists. Not only that, such Muslims are out there in an effort to salvage Islam from terrorists who twist the verses of Quran and use other sources selectively in order to recruit innocent Muslims and wage war against the West.
I would have loved it much more had Craig Winn done a fair job and not only exposed the terrorists but also investigated Islam from this other viewpoint, which represents perhaps more than 99% of the Muslim population. While Mr. Winn has tried to prove that Quran states all Muslims are bad, he forgets that Quran also states that all non-Muslims are not alike, and there are those that are dedicated to God:
Not only that Quran states that there is no compulsion in religion (2:256) and that whoever kills another soul with the exception of as punishment for murder or for causing mischief in land, it is as if he killed the entire mankind (5:32).
Mr. Winn can reject these verses if he likes, but then he has chosen to accept the interpretation of the terrorists and when moderates like me suggest interpretations of Quran as against terrorism, he has chosen to reject those even though it is belief of a majority of Muslims.
Lastly, Muslims accept Quran as the book of sources and the only piece of text that has reached the present day with the authenticity unsurpassed by other texts. Consequently, Islam’s beliefs are formed on the basis of Quran and not on the basis of hadith, tarikh and sira – the latter are only sources of practices, for instance, how to offer prayers, perform pilgrimage, observe fasts etc.
I hope Mr. Winn and your team will acknowledge that the book unfairly presents the terrorist version and consequently causes more problem than solving. It also distorts Islam since it looks only from one point of view – all the material seems to have been drawn by the teas Mr. Winn had with terrorists – I wish he had some with people like me.
My prayers for you and the team,
Muhammad Omer Iqbal
A careless driver, once caught red handed, doesn't prove that all American drivers are careless.