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American Christian anti-Islamic literary polemics

16 Jun 2010

Mixed Message – see excerpts from this article (bulleted) below my comments

Doug Howard’s review of Kamal Saleem’s “memoir”, The Blood of Lambs (which tells of Saleem’s conversion from being a Muslim “terrorist” to Christianity).  A couple things are troubling to me about Saleem’s book and “ministry” – as well as others like him (e.g. Walid Shoebat and Zachariah Anani – see below). First, as Howard pointed out, there seems to be a reluctance on behalf of Saleem to be forthcoming about certain easily verifiable details of his story (whether due to lapses in memory or “security concerns”), while he provides very detailed accounts of events that would be near impossible to verify – e.g. what he did on secret missions in his former life.  There also seems to be reluctance on the part of those who like his message to be concerned about these potential problems of veracity.  (See my previous post, truth Matters)

I am also concerned about the attitude and approach to Islam that this encourages among Christians.  While, as Howard points out, Saleem does include the perfunctory “many Muslims are kind and gentle”, he presents a radical minority’s interpretation of Islam as what Islam is all about.  This is wrong.  Most Muslims do NOT interpret the Quran this way.  Would these Christians want Muslims telling them that the Bible supports racism – based on the interpretations of some white supremacists?   The effect of this misrepresentation is to increase fear and anger against Muslims among the Christians who listen to these “former terrorists” and accept what they say.

In a presentation at Calvin College, sponsored by the Calvin College Republicans (CCR), Saleem responded to skeptical questions and comments by local Muslims in a rude way.  (See the Calvin College student newspaper)  After a Muslim doctor challenged Saleem’s message, he reminded the audience that doctors played a role in the terrorist attacks in England!  Given this kind of interaction, I don’t understand how the CCR vice-chair, Paul Gehm, can describe Saleem’s message as “one of hope and redemption”.

tags: Islam, Muslim, extremist, fraud, terrorist, interfaith

  • …American Christian anti-Islamic literary polemics, including Kamal Saleem’s “memoir,” The Blood of Lambs. The book fits the familiar pattern of reassuring Christians of the superiority of their own faith tradition by negative comparisons with a dehumanized Islam. But Kamal Saleem’s titillating dance with violence and fame makes the book more complicated and more uncomfortable than most like it. By embracing the glamorous violence it claims to abhor, it raises readers’ hopes of touching secret human meanings through it.
  • The book tries to make readers feel ashamed for asking nagging questions, but I am unmoved. Every other chapter is devoted to coyly reminding us of the dangers Kamal Saleem faces when he speaks publicly against “Radical Islam.” Describing the controversy surrounding his 2008 appearance at the Air Force Academy, he writes that “a college professor specifically called me a ‘fraud.’ ” I was that college professor, and having now read his book, I see no reason to withdraw the assessment. I want to know why a person who so vividly recalls maneuvers carried out when he was seven years old has such vague memories of his twenties. How did he come to the United States, exactly?
  • Kamal Saleem sometimes appears with two other “former terrorists,” who also appear in the book. One is Zachariah Anani, a Canadian. Tom Quiggin, a former intelligence and security expert with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, stated in the Windsor (Ontario) Star that Anani is “not an individual who rates the slightest degree of credibility.” The other, Walid Shoebat, was exposed in the Jerusalem Post. According to his brother, who still lives in Beit Sahour, Shoebat left Palestine in 1978 to further his education in the United States. He met and married the daughter of a Baptist minister and converted to Christianity. The most extreme thing he ever did was attaching Palestinian flag stickers to utility poles around town. A 2006 letter from Rev. Alex Awad, president of the Council of Evangelical Churches in Palestine, warned American churches about him. Yet these three men march brazenly on, not only in churches but at Christian colleges and major universities.
  • The book purports to describe only “radical” Muslims, and once even concedes that “[m]any Muslims are kind and gentle people.” But we meet no such Muslims in The Blood of Lambs. It repeatedly asserts that the core value of Islam is to kill Christians and Jews. This is common fare in Christian pulp fiction, where the fatuity of Islam matches its mind-numbing power. Still, some of the book’s distortions are bizarre. It claims, for example, that the “rules of Islam” mean “no ham, no bacon, that sort of thing,” and that Islam’s higher rules are: “Do not drink alcohol. Do not use your right hand in the bathroom. Do not look upon women. Do not tolerate a disrespectful woman. Do not tolerate your grandma’s Christianity.” There are no adequate terms for such absurdities. Suffice it to say that if the subject were Jews, this book could not have been published.
  • The Blood of Lambs is obsessively, sadistically violent. It describes so many deaths and killings, in such pornographic detail, that we wonder whether indulging this secret lust is the whole point. Everyone longs to live a relevant life. It is as if Kamal Saleem has been very close to something that the reader, too, deeply yearns to experience, and that something seems to be encapsulated in the book’s violence.
  • It is insulting to be told that we have to look down the barrel of a gun to see life’s inner meaning, or that only a killer can really understand Islam. Authentic experience comes when we see a man or a woman before we see a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew; when we hear a human voice before we hear “a thick Middle Eastern accent”; when the person next to us on the plane is a young man—with a father and a mother waiting for him—before he is a Nigerian or an American. Anything else leads down the road toward extremism. Although Kamal Saleem has forsaken much, he has evidently not yet forsaken that.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 22 May 2011 4:35 pm

    A very balanced review of Islam and worthy of being accepted by true Christians.
    You might like to see my short review of some Christian fakes. God bless.

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