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Book Review: Journey into America by Akbar Ahmed

By: U. Mahesh Prabhu
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(Author is Editor-In-Chief of upcoming apolitical and illustrated family magazine FOLKS and Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London (UK))

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Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam | Author: Akbar Ahmed | Publisher: Brookings Institution Press | ISBN: 978-0-8157-0387-7 | Price: $29.95 (HB)

When Muslims in democratic societies demand for "a room for Islamic prayer", for "liberty" to wear head scarf or call for newspapers "to refrain from publishing Mohammed"s cartoons", Islam"s apologists support them by referring to "freedom of faith". By comparing Islam to other religion(s) and by presenting arguments like "What would you do if you were not allowed to practice your own faith!?" they smartly deceive those without any idea about Islam besides making them declare that "Islam is a religion of peace."

Owing to few brave free-thinking intellectuals and to the internet; the world is slowly, yet steadily, awakening to see the true face of Islam. Islam"s myth-busters - often branded as "Islamophobists" by their critics - are doing a brilliant task by stripping this savage faith of its "peacefulness" thereby placing Islamic apologists in a great quandary. Any observer on this subject can firmly claim that Islamic apologists" arguments are falling far from "convincing people". "Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam" by Akbar Ahmed is a book which seems to follow the maxim "If you can"t convince them; confuse them".

Instead of utilizing his journeys across Americas, funded mostly by Brookings, to win over radicals in his faith and asking them to stay away from its" grave beliefs, he conforms his meetings only to those who can toe his line(s) or present arguments to suit his". The perspective in which he presents facts like "subjugation" of native Indians by early Americans with regard to advent of Islamists is pretty confusing and appears as if it is written to suggest that "What Islamists are doing to Americans is what Americans have done to their natives."

Ahmed"s arguments are not straight; there are several perversions. Apparently his arguments are more against the Islamic critics than against the Islamic radicals. Author, who was once a Pakistani High Commissioner to United Kingdom, is also a Chauvinist Pakistani Muslim attributing the "great Mughal Empire" being responsible for greatness of Indian subcontinent in the past. What he certainly fails to inform - for obvious reasons - is that founder of Mughal Dynasty Babur was an invader who too looted the wealth of Indians just like Ghazni Muhammad. He grossly undermines the unprecedented contributions of Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and even Jews in making of this land besides not mentioning persecution of these people by generations of Mughal kings - from Babur to Aurangzeb.

The critics of Islam often question the sincerity of Koran with regard to its honesty while dealing with Kafirs (read non-Muslims). Critics of Islam often ask apologists as to why in the Koran are there verses like "Then your Lord spoke to his angels and said, "I will be with you. Give strength to believers. I will send terror into Kafirs" hearts, cut off their heads and even tips of their fingers." (Koran 8:12) Apologists like Ahmed often retort with another verse reading "Listen to what they (Kafirs) say with patience, and leave them with dignity." (Koran 73:10)

Akbar Ahmed himself claims in the book about getting into a "fierce arguments with radical Muslims". While they quote him "harder" verses; he retorting to them with "milder" ones. However, what he doesn"t disclose is the fact that: Because Koran is filled with contradiction such as above it provides a method to resolve the problem through abrogation.

Abrogation in Koran suggests that later verses are stronger than the earlier verses. However, both verses are still true, since the Koran is the exact and precise word of Allah. In the two verses, above, the second verse is earlier than the first verse and is therefore weaker; it is always so. The earlier weaker good verse is abrogated by the later stronger but bad verse. Now why Ahmed and several other Islam"s apologists never speak of existence of this system in Islam? Perhaps learning about Al-Takkia may offer some perspective. Following quote found in Bukhari 5, 59, 369 says it all:

Mohammed asked, "Who will kill Ka"b, the enemy of Allah and Mohammad?"

Bin Maslama rose and responded, "O Mohammad! Would it please you if I killed him?"

Mohammed answered, "Yes".

Bin Maslama then said, "Give me permission to deceive him with lies so that my plot will succeed."

Mohammad replied, "You may speak falsely to him."

Also, the prophet of Islam has said clearly in Bukhari 4, 52, 268 that "Jihad is deceit."

Ahmed"s book has nothing worthwhile with regard to resolving the crisis that is fast gripping United States. What author asks in this book is for "provisions" and "liberty" for Muslims to practice their faith and follow their "holy books". But what about phrases in these very "holy books" which call for killing of Kafirs (non-Muslims)? Why is the author trying to ignore all inconvenient questions posed against Islam"s apologists by their critics - repeatedly? Why is he only trying to invoke the guilt in Americans by recalling their "bloody past"?

True, Americans did commit excesses upon the natives. But it is also equally true that very descendents of these people are today looking upon them with respect and dignity. But have the decedents of the Prophet of Islam or his followers apologized for the excesses committed by them (and still being committed) upon Pagans, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Sikhs in any country where Islam is dominant? If that be so, why people across free thinking world, including America, without any knowledge of Islam claim it to be a "religion of peace" or even compare Islam with their faith? Why are they playing into the hands of stealth Jihadists and Islamic apologists so easily? It is time to realize that "Ignorance is NOT a bliss" - not any longer!

U. Mahesh Prabhu

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