This is not a review, just a series of observations.
I expected this book to be full of misinformation about Arabs and Islam. Well, it had a good deal of that, but I did not anticipate how much Christian glurge there would be. As for the romance novel aspect, by the end of the book all the romantic protagonists have done is exchange “a kiss that kept her warm all night.”
There’s weird inconsistency in the few Arabic phrases the authors include. They get some short and basic Lebanese phrases right, but they write “Allah Ak’bar” with a totally gratuitous apostrophe and, as mentioned in a previous post, were amusingly wrong about how one would say, “The followers of God’s will.” (Ansar Inshallah is not it).
Inshallah is a complete sentence. It means “If God wills,” but someone probably told the authors it meant “God’s will.” If there really were an Arab terrorist group with “inshallah” as part of its name, imagine how that would play into the hands of zealous FBI and CIA agents. Everyone who said “Inshallah” would be a terror suspect. What am I saying? That’s how it is already.
The Arabs in this book are mostly residents of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Each and every male character among them would rather kill his daughter with his bare hands (or the scimitar he assuredly must carry everywhere–he’s Muslim, right?) than see her get an education.
The female protagonist, Liz, who is surprisingly, offensively ignorant of Islam despite having spent half her life in Beirut, laughably compares women’s role in Islam unfavorably to women’s role in Christianity. She offers no cites for her misapprehensions.
Liz herself is a grown woman who refers to herself a girl in her email address and likes her mom best when her mom is doing traditional womanly things like making tea and serving baklava.
Liz believes that God and Allah are two completely different things, and that Allah is bloodthirsty and full of hate. It puts me in mind of the paradigm in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia novels, where the dark-skinned, scimitar-wielding, crescent-afficionado Calormen worship the evil god Tash, and the virtuous, light-skinned Narnians worship the noble Aslan; but if there should be such a thing as a Calorman who isn’t evil and violent, he’s really worshipping Aslan, while if a Narnian is a bad boy, he’s really worshipping Tash–even though they don’t know it.
Except to Liz, even if you’re a sweet and virtuous young person, if you worship Allah, you’re wrong wrong wrong.
I had to resort to Wikipedia to refresh my memory on the Narnia books, and in doing so I found this page, Medieval Christian View of Muhammad. Lots of good stuff here.
Facts such as the Muslim belief that [Muhammad] was unlettered, that he married a wealthy widow, that in his later life he had several wives, that he ruled over a human community and was therefore involved in several wars, and that he died like an ordinary person in contrast to the Christian belief in the supernatural end of Christ’s earthly life were all interpreted in the worst possible light.
Medieval scholars and churchmen held that Islam was the work of Muhammad who in turn was inspired by Satan. Muhammad was frequently calumnized and made a subject of legends taught by preachers as fact. For example, in order to show that Muhammad was the anti-Christ, it was asserted that Muhammad died not in the year 632 but in the year 666 – the number of the beast – in another variation on the theme the number “666″ was also used to represent the period of time Muslims would hold sway of the land. A verbal expression of Christian contempt for Islam was expressed in turning his name from Muhammad to Mahound, the “devil incarnate”. Others usually confirmed to pious Christians that Muhammad had come to a bad end. According to one version after falling into a drunken stupor he had been eaten by a herd of swine, and this was ascribed to the reason why Muslims proscribed consumption of liquor and pork.
Ha! Muslims ruled Spain alone longer than that (781 years). Take that, medieval Christians.
Speaking of 666, there is someone currently trying to convince credulous audiences that it was never the number of the beast at all, but a vision of the written word “God” in Arabic that was revealed to John of Patmos. None other than fake person Walid Shoebat. I won’t link to anything that could possibly benefit him, but here’s a blog with more info. There are people who take this seriously.
And now I’ve found a whole bunch of blogs to peruse. What a lot of different points of view there are out there.