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Customer Review

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A better, more authentic approach to Islam, Sept. 28 2009
This review is from: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic lllusion of an Islamic State (Hardcover)
Clearly Tarek Fatah has a lot of honesty, integrity and courage. He challenges the powers-that-be in Muslim traditionalism, whatever their claims to infallibility or superiority. But what Fatah does should not be considered controversial. He just compares the Quran with the later pronouncements of dictators and clerics. What's so heretical about that?

Fatah and the scholars he cites show that the autocratic power of early caliphs violated the values of social equality and rule by community consultation. Then a long series of clerical pronouncements proceeded to correct the Quran. The sharia law of stoning adulterers violated the Quran's chapter 4 verses 15-16 and 25, plus chapter 24 verses 2-3. The sharia law permitting the killing of apostates violated the Quran's chapter 2, verse 256, chapter 3 verses 88-89, chapter 4 verse 94, and chapter 16 verse 106. During Muhammad's life three Muslims were recorded as renouncing Islam, and none of them faced any death penalty. The sharia law banning women's testimony in legal cases violated the Quran's chapter 24, verses 4 and 11-20. The sharia law allowing Muslim men to pronounce an "instant" divorce on their wives violated chapter 2 verses 228-229 and chapter 65 verses 1-2. The rule that women should "cover your heads" (chapter 24 verse 31) actually said "cover your bosom (gayb)" -- it didn't mention the head (raas).

Fatah explores Islamic history from the death of Muhammad forward. With unblinking honesty he relates the seizures of power, the political murders, the civil wars. To those who see the ancient caliphates as perfect models to which modern Muslims must return, Fatah answers "From the Ridda (Apostacy) Wars of Caliph Abu-Bakr to the humiliating defeat of the Caliph Mustasim, I have not found a single period that I could in all honesty say I would trade for my 21st-century existence as a Muslim living in a secular democratic society. Why Islamists would crave the bloody past is beyond rational explanation, but rationality was a victim of the caliphs."

As the Christian church after Jesus proceeded to add, delete, and correct Jesus' religion almost beyond recognition, so did the rulers and clerics of later Islam. Fatah has the courage to reverse the process. On his own authority he rejects traditions which contradict the Quran. He is concerned to improve human relations for the future, not to defend our brutal past.
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