Sunday, June 05, 2016

Review: Portrait of a Psychopath

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Portrait of a Psychopath

by EDWARD CLINE October 14, 2014

Review: It's All About Muhammad: A Biography of the World's Most Notorious Prophet, by F.W. Burleigh. Portland, OR: Zenga Books, 2014. 555 pp. Illustrated.

Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.     

Nevertheless, purists and Islamapologists near and far will damn F.W. Burleigh's narrative of the life of Muhammad, It's All About Muhammad: A Biography of the World's Most Notorious Prophet, or ignore it and just mutter under their breath. Muslim demonstrators will more likely froth at the mouth and develop laryngitis, as is their habit, because Burleigh's book also boasts twenty-five pen-and-ink line illustrations, many of them depicting Muhammad at various points in his itinerant career. 


Burleigh's biography is a compelling read, at times entertaining, but mostly informative. He brings to life what to most Westerners, and even to most Muslims, has been an abstraction, an untouchable icon never to be depicted, slandered, libeled, or mocked under pain of a death fatwa. Drawing on authoritative texts of the Koran and Hadith, together with the interpretations, histories and revisions by commentators such as Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Warraq, Al-Tabari, Edward Gibbon, Ahmed Qiresjo, and the translations of J.M. Rodwell, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, and M.H. Shakir, among others, the author presents an indelible picture of Muhammad the Monster who loosed a virulent evil on the world over fourteen centuries. 
While Burleigh has proved himself a creditable and dauntless researcher of all the Islamic sources, and from translations and interpretations from respected contemporary sources (there are 47 pages of end notes, and a five-page bibliography), one must take those sources with a generous dose of skepticism, because the Koran and the Hadith were works-in-progress for centuries. Robert Spencer's book, Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry Into Islam's Obscure Origins, would be an ideal companion to Burleigh's work. Burleigh performed the unenviable task of weaving together fourteen centuries worth of myriad tribal alliances and animosities, myths, lore, and legends, including commentaries, corrections, and interpretations by Islamic scholars and contemporary (i.e., modern) Muhammad and Islam authorities, into a coherent, linear, and comprehensible narrative.  
Muhammad was thorough in his war against the Jews (about whom, before his "visions," he had borne no animus.) When he conquered the Qurayza Jews near Medina, he had all the males and boys, between four and nine hundred of them, beheaded, his two cousins welding the swords far into the night. The women and children were taken as booty by his army, or sold at auction in distant slave markets to raise money for horses and weapons. 
The current onslaught of ISIS, or the Islamic State, through Syria and Iraq, proves that Islamic methods and ends are consistent and have not changed a whit since Muhammad's time. Mass executions, mass rapine, looting, brutal conquest, and the imposition of barbaric Sharia law have been the practice ever since then.
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