Karen Armstrong

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Background[edit]

Karen Armstrong (born 14 November 1944 in Wildmoor, Worcestershire), who refers to herself as a "freelance monotheist", is the British author of several books/articles on comparative religion. She is also a member of the UN Committee for Religious Affairs, and is well known for her defense of Islam. In November of 2009, she unveiled the "Charter for Compassion" in Washington, DC and online. This "Charter" is a document which urges all people and religions to embrace peace and "to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures."

Criticism[edit]

Some of Armstrong's work have been described as "strikingly" anti-Semitic.[1] Her revisionist approach to discussing history has won her the praise of many readers, while earning her criticism from various historians including; Dr. Alfred Andrea,[2] Dr. James Powell,[3] Dr. Thomas Madden,[4] and the Israeli historian Efraim Karsh,[5] head of Mediterranean Studies at King's College London, who comments:

Ms. Armstrong goes out of her way to whitewash Muhammad's extermination of the Jewish presence in Medina, especially the beheading of the entire 600 to 800 male population of the Qurayzah tribe. "The Qurayzah were not killed on religious or racial ground," she claims, adding that "Muhammad had no ideological quarrel with the Jewish people." This is of course a travesty of the truth.[5]

Hugh Fitzgerald, the vice-president of and a contributor to Jihad Watch comments on some of her writing, calling it:

...a scandal, consisting almost entirely of baseless assertions, incredible omissions, and complete fabrications. But it is not inexplicable. For Karen Armstrong history does not exist. It is putty in the hands of the person who writes about history. You use it to make a point, to do good as you see it. And whatever you need to twist or omit is justified by the purity of your intentions – and Karen Armstrong always has the purest of intentions. She knows that we in the “white Western world” (as some like to call it) fail to understand others. She knows of our deep need to create “the Other” – a psychic need felt exclusively, and with great intensity, apparently, only by us, and never by anyone else.[6]

Similar views are espoused by historian Dr. Thomas Madden. Commenting on one of Karen's books, he says:

Poorly researched and written, this book is largely an exercise in modern left-wing rhetoric about sensitivity, tolerance, and the evils of Western civilization. Her “triple vision” is blurred by a misguided approach to Islam and Judaism and outright hostility to Catholicism.[3]

In an interview with Voor Dutch television (Network) on November the 23rd 2005, Karen Armstrong explained while smiling, what she believes is the reason behind the mass-slaughter of innocent Iraqi citizens via suicide-bombings:

because of the so called forgotten dead, 90,000 by allied forces during the attack against Saddam Hussain.

Also in April of 2007, Karen Armstrong criticized Robert Spencer and his book "The Truth About Muhammad", accusing him of being ”a hero of the American right” and of writing his books in “hatred”.[7] Spencer in his response stated:

Uh-oh, "the American right." That's mainstream media code for "a bad guy who should not be accorded respect or taken seriously." This is, of course, a familiar tactic of Leftists, jihadists, and those who sympathize with them: characterize any accurate report of their activities as "hatred." Never mind that my book works strictly from the earliest extant Islamic sources, and only reports what they say. If there is any "hatred" in it, it comes from those sources, not from me.”[8]

He also highlighted several lies told by Karen Armstrong in regards to the content of his book:

He [Robert Spencer] picks out only those aspects of Islamic tradition that support his thesis. For example, he cites only passages from the Quran that are hostile to Jews and Christians and does not mention the numerous verses that insist on the continuity of Islam with the People of the Book: ”Say to them: We believe what you believe; your God and our God is one.
Karen Armstrong
Oh, Karen. Do you really think no one will check your work? Not only do I mention the verse you claim I don't mention (Qur'an 29:46), but I do so twice, on page 17 and again on page 51...Having exposed in The Truth About Muhammad Armstrong's misrepresentation of Tabari's evidence about Aisha's age when she married Muhammad (see page 170), and seeing her false statement above about my not quoting Qur'an 29:46, I am not inclined to take her [at her] word...
Robert Spencer

Karen Armstrong has declined all invitations to debate Robert Spencer.

Some of her other claims include that “until the 20th century, anti-Semitism was not part of Islamic culture”, that Muhammad was a “peacemaker” who “respected” Jews and other non-Muslims, and that “until recently, no Muslim thinker had ever claimed violent Jihad was a central tenet of Islam."

See Also[edit]

External Links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Andrea Levin - Karen Armstrong’s Unscholarly Prejudices - Jerusalem Post, Febuary 2, 2001
  2. Andrea, A. J. - The Crusades in Perspective: The Crusades in Modern Islamic Perspective History Compass, 2003
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dr. James M. Powell - Crusading 1099-1999: Inaugural Lecture, Malta Study Center Lecture Series - Presented at Saint John's University, Collegeville, MN, October 28, 1999
  4. Dr. Thomas Madden - Crusades of History and Politics - Hudson Institute, Spring 2002
  5. 5.0 5.1 Efraim Karsh - The Perfect Surrender - The New York Sun, September 25, 2006
  6. Hugh Fitzgerald - Karen Armstrong: The Coherence of Her Incoherence - New English Review, May 2007
  7. Karen Armstrong - Balancing the Prophet - Financial Times, April 27, 2007
  8. Robert Spencer - Karen Armstrong reviews Spencer's The Truth About Muhammad! - Jihad Watch, April 28, 2007