Among the cyber Islamophobes, few are more obsessed than Robert Spencer, a self-styled expert whose The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and The Crusades) should be published in a new version without the word “Politically” in the title. Spencer writes for a specific audience, either those who already hate Muslims or others lacking the knowledge and common sense to see through his rhetorical jihad against Islam. There are numerous rebuttals to Spencer’s work available on the web. Some of the best comes from the pen of Dr. Khaleel Mohammad, whose website is worth looking at.

I attach below an excerpt from Khaleel Mohammad’s “Robert Spencer’s Obsession With Islam: What Would Jesus Do?” published in The American Muslim, September 30, 2008.

Here is something that Spencer might consider next time he chooses to pray to the Creator—while ranting and raving about Islamic radicalism and the threat it presents. Spencer should examine himself and his agenda and motivation closely. The danger to this country presented by radical Islamists is an overt one and is being confronted. Spencer, on the other hand, turns a blind eye to the extremists who are not Muslim who would see this country turned into a theocracy that imprisons people simply because they are Muslim. And, hatemongering such as Spencer’s writings, or in films such as Obsession may provide justification to these other extremists.

I rarely respond to such nonsense, and am only responding now because those who keep an eye on things have forwarded Spencer’s material to me asking if I wished to respond. As I noted on my website, I consider arguments from people who know their stuff. Here is what I said in the statement on my site:

I have been bombarded with several queries regarding my “discussion” on frontpagemag.com, and the subsequent inimical webpostings on Jihadwatch etc. Most of the queries have addressed my apparent silence in the face of attacks on my position regarding Islamic reformation, and my alleged lack of coming to terms with certain aspects of Islamic “truths.”

I consider myself a scholar and therefore prefer to engage in discussion where facts, rather than fictions and prejudgments are presented. When therefore I am told that the pope apologised for the Crusades, or that Jihad only means war, or that I have to accept interpretations of the Quran that non-Muslims (with no good intentions or knowledge of Islam) seek to force upon me, I see a certain agendum developing: one that is based on hate, and I refuse to be part of such an intellectual crime.

There are certain stereotypes that extremists try to sell to the public: that all Arab countries are racist, closed to free discussion. I can only state that from my experience, I have encountered racism, anti-semitism, as well as free discussion in Arab countries–the same as I have encountered in the U.S. Indeed the hateful material that I have seen on the internet has come largely NOT from the Arabs and Muslims (although they are not free from blame), but rather from hatemongers based right here in the United States.

One always has to ask the question Cui Bono? My position on the State of Israel has understandably gained the attention of many activists. The interests of some of these activists, however, as is manifest, have not been out of goodwill–rather they seek to get me to join them in their Islamophobia, Arabophobia, and latent Judeophobia. How can I view it otherwise when an evangelist proselytizer wants to tell me that all Muslims must belong to one of four sects–this means then that the Zaidis, the Ismailis, the Shias, the Ahmadis–to name just a few–are not Muslims? It means too that I-despite my declarations–am not Muslim, for I chose to identify with none of the medieval sectarian movments..I simply say that I am a Muslim.

In a discussion on Islam, I am told to “go back to my country.” This presupposes that all Muslims are aliens–forgetting that the first Muslims in America were slaves–who did not come here out of their own free will. My position on Israel is free from any hidden motive: it is based on my reading of the Qur’an, one that I must admit places me at odds with many of my coreligionists. I certainly do not support Israel so that the in-gathering of the Jews can fulfill the parousia, and they be converted to Christianity. This to me is latent anti-semitism. Nor do I support a Jewish land in Israel so that I can convert Jews to Islam. This would be latent Judeophobia.

I have also been informed that I am now portrayed as a Jihadist by some since I refuse to apologise for Jihad in the Qur’an. I certainly refuse to apologise for Jihad–which is a defensive war fought against those who declare war on Islam. That many Muslim regimes have confused Jihad and War is something that I admit to–but their crime is their own, and I do not have to apologize for that–no more than I expect every Christian to apologize to every Muslim and every Jew for the crimes committed in the name of Jesus during the crusades.

I am also now informed that there is one website wherein I am quoted out of context. I am vilified for saying that I oppose Christian missionary activity in Saudi Arabia. This somehow has been taken to mean that I oppose democracy, women’s rights etc. I don’t see the connection: I think Saudi Arabia is a sovereign country, and has the right, in fact, the duty to its citizens to keep them from missionary activity if it so chooses. In the same article I mentioned that I am against both Muslim and Christian missionary activity–and this has been taken to suggest that I want the US to become a Muslim nation. Again, I don’t see the connection. And I don’t know of concerted Muslim missionary activity here in the US, except probably among the Nation of Islam’s followers–who concentrate on the Black community. The Nation of Islam is made up of Americans, not immigrants, and their activity is their business.

What is particularly painful to me is that people who portray themselves as followers of religion should seek to shamelessly misquote and lie, eschewing all ethics in their calumny, because I do not agree with them. But as Jesus is supposed to have said: Ye shall know them by their fruits. (Matt 7.16).

I choose not to respond personally to certain slurs and insults because the error in the first place was mine: a professor of religion should not seek learned discussion with those whose views are clouded by faith. Fortunately for me, I am in the United States where, despite the actions of a miniscule few, this country happens to be a haven where, for the most part, the freedom of speech is something sacred. This does not give me the right to purvey hate on the internet, or to engage in ad-hominem exchanges which say more about the people that sling them rather than those against whom their venom is directed. If anyone wishes to have up-front, honest dialogue with me, with no hidden agenda or malice aforethought, I welcome this. Even if we disagree, at least, I would like to think that we can do so while granting respect to each other. At least we can live, if not in harmony, at least in a coexistence of tolerance.

Spencer seeks to hoodwink his readers by talking of Jihad being war…and that idea, rather obviously, is not accepted by scholars of Islam (Muslim and non-Muslim). I am not even going to get into detailing that I do not deny that there are some Muslims who attempt to warp the meaning into that…but throughout Islamic history, there have always been scholars who have harkened to the true meaning. What I try to do is to ensure that my religion, my scripture is not derailed by those within the faith. I can do little about those from outside, whose own claim to scholarship is belied by a simple examination of the focus of their studies. Perhaps what Spencer ought to do is examine the history of his own religion, and then come to the table prepared for a debate.

There, Mr. Spencer, I have given you enough to respond to in your usual poison-pen tirades. Many years ago I questioned your scholarship, and I still do so today. You claim to want to debate, and hope that perhaps in entertaining you, I will somehow give credence to your nonsense. I work in the academic milieu for the most part Mr. Spencer, and my peers publish my articles in reviewed journals. Look at the comments on the answers to the challenge you posted: this is the ilk to which you pander–the vilest, most filthy form of hate. I guess it irks you that your “scholarship” is not accepted among people of conscience and discernment. Perhaps, instead of knowledge, you rely on faith to argue against Islam and anyone who is a Muslim. Since you are such an upstanding crusader, I wonder: what would Jesus do in this situation?