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Posted July 2, 2002
Factual Errors, Factual Errors, Factual Errors, Fac....
I am appalled by the amount of factual errors that Lewis includes in his book. If he's really not familiar with the reality of these facts, it's a big disaster. And if he is, it's of course a bigger disaster. Throughout his writings in general, Lewis always blames Muslims for not following great Western values. What an arrogant argument. Who said that values that work for the West will work for the Muslim world? Who said that Western values are 'great' anyways? Who said the West has true democracy and freedom of speech? I don't think this is an argument that can really be made, especially in light of what happened to personal freedoms after 9/11. In What Went Wrong, Lewis arrogantly tells us that to the extent that the Western culture had a chance to impact Islamic societies, it managed to free them from their demons. He illustrates this by telling us that slavery was finally abolished in the Islamic World in 1962 after they could not face the Western world with it anymore. This is a major factual error. Dr. Lewis, it would really surprise me if you did not know that Islam abolished slavery when it was introduced to Arabia in 632 A.D., hundreds of years before slavery was abolished in the United States. This is one reason why Islam is more popular among African Americans. The Quran (the Muslim Holy book) is filled with verses that stress that all people are equal, and the only thing that makes a human 'better' than another is the amount of good or virtue he/she does in his/her life. There was never any slavery in Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) and the early Muslims used to struggle to save money, so they can buy slaves and free them (and this is actually one example of the correct use of the word jihad, which is misused all over Western media). Actually at one point in his life, the Prophet married a woman slave that he bought and freed. Islam has actually called the pre-Islamic (and pre-Christian and pre-Jewish) days 'jahiliya' which means 'days of ignorance' because of the wide spread of slavery and worshipping stones, which Islam put an end to. So this is a huge factual error. If you run a simple search on the Internet for 'Islam AND slavery' for example, or if you read books by someone like Karen Armestrong, you will find literally thousands of Webpages and pieces of evidence that confirm my point. I'm really puzzled when 'prominent' scholars publish books about Islam or Arabs or the Middle East with such huge factual errors (and I've only mentioned one example for lack of space). I think they only serve to deepen the misunderstandings and increase the gap between the Muslim world and the West.
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