A debut religious book offers an overview of the theology and history of Islam, from its origins through the present day.
Akbari, a native Iranian who spent most of his life in the tourism industry in Spain, offers Western readers a concise introduction to Islam in hopes that they will “wake up” and reject “politically correct” approaches to Islam and Muslim immigration. Although peppered with critical editorial commentary, the first half of the book provides a fairly straightforward outline of the basic tenets and historical developments of the religion. Topics covered include the origins of Islam, a comprehensive analysis of Sharia law, and a history of the religion through its “Golden Age.” The second half looks at the modern history of Islam, from the Iranian Revolution to the present crisis in Syria. Contrary to the arguments advanced by mainstream Western liberalism and moderate Muslims, terrorist organizations like the Islamic State group, to the author, are “the representation of true Islam and true Muslims.” Through this lens, Akbari advises that European “do-gooders” who believe in the inherent virtues of “diversity” be extremely cautious in their embrace of Muslim refugees who bring with them a religion that promotes “violence and intolerance.” To the author, Islam is inherently “fascist” and has no place in modern society. And to his critics who would label this line of reasoning “Islamophobic,” he counters that while “a phobia is an irrational fear,” the danger posed by Islam is all too real. Akbari’s ambitious book provides some lucid and rich details about various features of Islam. But many readers will be put off by the work’s polemical tone, which sees no value in most of the aspects of Islamic theology or history. This absolutist approach has the tendency to set up Islamic straw men rather than engage with a more nuanced—and more meaningful—debate. Glaringly absent from the volume’s narrative is the history of colonialism and its legacy in breeding violence in the Middle East. This heritage is one that roots much of the Muslim world’s issues not in the abstract realm of a flawed theology, but in the secular sphere of economic inequality and political instability.
An uneven introduction to Islam.