In his final chapter, Townsend laments the political correctness that prevents honest research into Islam, as well as the threat of violence against those who nevertheless do so. I couldn't agree more.
However, I begin to disagree with him when he confesses that:
It is my considered opinion that the classical Islamic doctrines have an overwhelmingly negative impact on communities where it is in the ascendancy.
He says he explores this in another book - Nothing to do With Islam? Investigating the West's Most Dangerous Blind Spot.
He follows with:
I believe that the world will be a much safer place if belief in Islam is fundamentally undermined in the minds of those who now affirm the Shahada [Islamic creed].
I should read his other book before criticizing his conclusive generalization about Islam, but my initial thought is that things are not so simple. By all means, conduct honest research into Islam, but I would hope that it includes research into how the most fundamentalist Islamic countries today are those that have undergone the severest traumas at the hands of external (usually Western) military-economic interference...
Townsend goes on:
[...] history represents the Achilles Heel of Islam [...] This is because of the traditional and commonly accepted account of Islamic origins cannot even begin to survive critical enquiry.
Can Judaism? Or Christianity? And once Islam is deconstructed, then what? A billion reformed Muslims will be liberated into joining Westerners in the nihilistic embrace of material scientism and postmodernism?
On the last page, Townsend writes:
Why leave unchallenged set of ideas that can conclusively be demonstrated as leading to ways of life, beliefs and attitudes that are fundamentally at odds with human rights, compassion for the rest of humanity and scientific progress?
. Are those like the human rights the Americans went to Iraq with to gift to the Iraqis?
Compassion for the rest of humanity
. When the Ottoman Sultan sent ships full of food to Ireland at the height of the 'Great Hunger' in the mid-19th century - against the wishes of the British Crown, and with zero discernible geopolitical benefit for him - was he doing so in spite of
being 'infected with Islam'?
As for scientific progress
, the 'Islamic' caliphates were Number 1 (relative to Europe anyway) in that sphere for about a millennium, so it's dishonest to source majority Muslim countries' relative incapacity in science today
to the phony narratives about how Islam came about, ignoring the rich scientific, literary, medical, etc. achievements in-between...
I don't know how familiar Townsend is with later 'Islamic' civilization (although I think we can drop the quotemarks at this point), but I've read elsewhere that a later Medieval caliphate (late Baghdad I think) underwent an enlightenment of sorts, such that the intelligentsia of the day were reinterpreting Islam as symbolic
, and not to be taken literally.
It's a dynamic as old as time: the back-and-forth all civilizations undergo between 'liberal' regimes and conservative reversion to 'the fundamental principles'...