Every once in awhile, people encounter works of art or new knowledge which makes them pause, think and admire. One of the symptoms of such an encounter is when a person can't stop talking about it or literally lecturing friends about the profound effect of new knowledge and the anticipation of all such effects it may have on man's life. My first such encounter without doubt was when I borrowed a copy of Atlas Shrugged from one of my seniors. I couldn't contain myself, let alone telling my friends of how great the experience was. I was thrilled, exalted and found tears running down my cheeks in the college library out of all the places in the world. I obviously wouldn't say that I understood the whole book the first time around but even the inkling that such knowledge existed gave me great joy. Ever since, there have always been such pauses; the difference has only been in the intensity or the measurement of such pauses – but the essential principle of furthering human life was always present.
I bring all of this up only because I've been encountering such a phase since last night. I can't stop recommending a couple of books to all and any Indian who wants to protect a semblance of a civilized society which is at great stake today – from Islamic totalitarianism. However, there are many Muslims and non- Muslims around us who would like to challenge the facts itself and proclaim that Islam is a peaceful religion and that Prophet Muhammed is a great man. If you've gotten into an argument with any Muslim about the nature of Islam, you would notice that he will inevitably allege that any verse in the Quran which propagates violence against non-believers is read "out of context" or is taken from some sort of Zionist sites. The argument in most cases gets personal and name-calling is often resorted to. John David Lewis has written an excellent piece on one such onslaught he encountered. While one is debating the need to attack Islamist Iran, the Muslim stops his opponent and tells him that he does not know the nature of Islam or Islamic theology. According to his version, Islam is a peaceful creed and Prophet Muhammed was a virtuous man. To any objection you raise you will be told that you are quoting the passage out of context and misrepresenting a peaceful religion. If you tell him about the slaughter of Bani Quraidha tribe where 900 Jews were killed in broad daylight, he will teIl you that the Prophet only did it because the tribe engaged in mutiny by negotiating with the enemies. If you cite a verse that says do not take non-beleivers as friends, he will say that the Prophet only meant "do not take them as allies" and not "do not take them as friends". If you tell him the doctrine of Taqqiya -- the order that one can lie to further Islam -- he will tell you that only the Shia's engage in Taqqiya and that Sunnis don't. I for one am not prepared for a strident defense of Islamic jihad and Sharia law. From the material I have read, I understand that the Prophet killed non-Muslims if they refused conversion. I see Muslim women everyday wearing burqas which cover their body from head to toe. But no matter what objection you raise, you are always quoting the passage "out of context" and sometimes the even worse "You are not a Muslim so you don't know".
I think the same trend occurs in the global warming propaganda. Mainstream media is full of the "science" behind the global warming theories and how certain it is that we are going to die if we continue to progress. Such claims give it the semblance of genuine facts.
Although it's impossible to become a philosopher, climatologist and a scholar in Islamic theology in a specialized society, I think one needs to spend at least sometime evaluating these claims for one selfish reason only: self-defense. Our culture is full of nonsensical ideas and weeding such ideas out requires that one seek out facts that one has to process to ascertain the truth of such claims. One can do as John David Lewis did. "In answer," to an angry questioner Mr. Lewis writes, "I re-read a series of quotes in which Islamic leaders—as well as a young girl on Lebanese television—call for jihad, war, and death; and I pointed out to the monologist that he must be quite angry at these Muslims for their incorrect view of jihad. But instead of being angry at those who give his presumably peaceful religion a bad name, he condemned me for reading their quotes. This is evasion par excellence—to condemn those who raise Islam's violent past and present rather than have to face the fact that the vision of idyllic peace that one associates with one's religion has no basis in reality." On the issue of global warming, Yaron Brook does a great job.
Of course, if one finds a field to be of particular interest, he can delve into the issue. I think the real challenge is to identify, narrow down one's interests and then really nail those issues down. As for me, I have lived in India and had many, many Muslim friends as a kid. This documentary opened my eyes to Islamic totalitarianism and was a rude shock – to say at best. Ever since, I have been following people like Robert Spencer and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I have been thinking about pursuing and investigating Islam and it has been quickly developing into a hobby of mine. I have decided that apart from studying Objectivism I would also like to study Islamic theology and history to the extent that I can.
Last night, after a few Google searches, I found this page which hosts free e-books on the nature of Islam. It piqued my attention because a few of the books which are offered are about the Jihad in India. Although our first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, was adamant that after the Muslim invasion, Hindus were treated properly and that the Mughal rulers were peaceful, there was a blood bath in India. Two of the authors I had wanted to read – K.S Lal and Seetha Ram Goel – were among the e-books. Here are a few I plan to read in the next couple of days:
- The Calcutta Quran Petition by Sita Ram Goel
- Indian Muslims – Who Are They by K.S. Lal
- The Legacy Of Muslim Rule in India by K.S Lal
- Muslim Slave System In Medieval India by K.S Lal
I think my real education in Islamic history will come from Scott Powell in his A First History For Adults which I plan to take in the next year. In the meantime, I am going to do what I can to further my values. I think these books should be compulsory reading to any Indian if he wishes to understand the Kashmir issue or the string of bombings in the name of Allah because such issues can be sanely understood only when one looks into the theory that's behind such atrocious acts: Islam.
I welcome any book or course suggestions for beginners in the study of Islam.