A defense of Islam that challenges Western myths and stereotypes.
In his debut book, Elmi hopes to provide skeptics and critics of the Muslim faith with a scholarly and faithfully Islamic defense. One can argue that Western perceptions of Christianity as a religion of peace and democracy and of Islam as a religion of violence and war will inevitably only lead to future conflict. For this reason, Elmi focuses on Islamic beliefs regarding violence, war, and peace. Central to his argument is the notion that Westerners often “confuse Islamic teachings with the social and cultural practices within Muslim communities” and unjustly blame a religion of peace for the warlike actions of its worst adherents. He points out that Islam’s history features the acts of virtuous men and women, the forging of a sacred community, and the formation of organizations that promote social justice as well as warfare, persecutions, and violence—just as Christianity does. And just as contemporary Christians believe the Crusades to be counter to the message of Jesus Christ, Elmi notes, so too should the West distinguish between true, peaceful Islamic ideology and those who falsely act in its name. The author is cleareyed about the violence of history, but he’s also careful to emphasize the fair treatment of Christians and Jews in the early history of Islam. Elmi is at his best in later chapters, in which he defends verses from the Quran that seemingly endorse violence—and which are often cherry-picked by critics of the faith. By providing historical context and scholarly analysis, the author convincingly shows Islam to be a religion that “promotes peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims.” The book is written with a general Western audience in mind, so Islamic scholars will not find much that’s new here. However, non-Muslims will find an accessible, reasoned case against Western stereotypes.
A concise and effective work about Islam as a religion of peace.