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CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM: An Introduction to Islam for Jews

Reuven Firestone, PhD, Author
Reuven Firestone, PhD, Author with Abdelwahab Hechiche. The American Jewish Committee and Ktav $29.50 (328p) ISBN 978-0-88125-724-3 ISBN 0-88125-720-6
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Durán, editor of the journal TransIslam, misses a great opportunity to educate his Jewish audience about the extensive similarities between Judaism and Islam. Pockets of the book are enlightening. He accurately describes the archaism of Shari'a (Islamic law) in the modern world, and makes a strong point that Islamism, or fundamentalist Islam, is a political, not religious, movement. However, Durán spends the bulk of the text on Islamists, belying their small population. He writes that "the history of Jewish-Muslim relations is so complex that one can list as many positive as negative examples of their interaction," yet he relates mostly the negative ones, sabotaging his ostensible purpose. He also misstates facts about Islam and women in Islam, and mishandles the description of dhimmi (minority status) in Islam. His many controversial assertions lack supporting evidence. He presents far-fetched, incendiary theories, such as, "the culprits in the Oklahoma City bombing [the Euro-American Timothy McVeigh and his fellow militia members] had an association" with the terrorist Osama Bin Lâdin. He also absurdly claims that many Muslims regard Bin Lâdin "as a revolutionary hero, a Muslim version of Che Guevara." The Islam described here is ritualistic, suspicious, misguided and overpowered by Islamists. Durán dismisses Jesus and his mother Mary's appearances in the Qur'an as merely "a courtesy to Christians," a dubious assessment. Most troublesome is his habit of analogizing Islamic behavior to Nazi behavior. The juxtaposition, like the book, treads an unwise path. (June)

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