An Unlikely Crusader for Compassion

From Muhammad the servant and Prophet of Allah, to Muqawqis, the leader of the Coptic tribe. There is safety and security for those believers who follow the correct path. Therefore I invite you to accept Islam.

If you accept it, you shall find security, save your throne, and gain twice as much reward for having introduced Islam to your followers. If you refuse this invitation, let the sin of calamity which awaits your followers be upon you. You too are People of the Book; therefore let us come to a word common between us that we worship none but Allah and shall equalise anything with him. Let us not abandon Allah and take others for lords other than him.

If you do not consent to this invitation, bear witness that we are Muslims.

From: The Letter Under Glass in Istanbul

A Crusade for Compassion is how The Ottawa Citizen described Karen Armstrong's visit to Ottawa to promote her book Muhammad - A Prophet for Our Times (HarperCollins, 2006) not forgetting to mention that the former nun is quite famous in some “Muslim-dominant countries (sic).”

Anyone who has read Ms. Armstrong’s panegyric to the founder of Islam understands why she is famous in some “Muslim-dominant countries (sic).”

It is evident that the former Roman Catholic nun has found a new hero.

In Islam – A Short History (Random House, 2002), she justifies Islam’s wars of expansion as defensive wars in spite of the Prophet’s ultimatum to the rulers of the kingdoms bordering the Arab peninsula to convert or else.

In the same book, she writes that God's Messenger was justified in ordering the beheading of the seven hundred men and boys of the Qurayzah Jewish tribe of Medina and the selling of the men’s wives and daughters into slavery during the war between Pagan Mecca and Muslim Medina because he did not trust the Jews to remain neutral; conveniently forgetting to mention that he ordered this cold-blooded mass murder after the Meccans had lifted the siege of Medina and returned to Mecca, never to threatened Medina again.

Not only that, the Prophet for our Times could have sent the mothers, wives and daughters of the murdered men to join the former Jewish communities of Medina whom he dispossessed and sent into exile. The powerless women and children were not a threat to the Muslims. Instead, he took Rayhanah the wife of one of the beheaded man for himself and gave the others to his men.

Karen Armstrong’s undue deference towards Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and her one-sided accusation that "This [the West] is not a compassionate society” makes her an unlikely and biased crusader for compassion.

Bernard Payeur, January 14, 2013