University of Michigan professor Juan Cole has been out promoting his new book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires, and with it, his revisionist view of early Islam as pacifistic and its prophet Muhammad as akin to Martin Luther King Jr. engaging in "nonviolent noncooperation." Campus Watch Fellow Andrew Harrod's report on Cole's recent talk at Georgetown University appears at the American Spectator.
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As Georgetown professor and ACMCU founder John Esposito moderated, Cole discussed his findings on "peace in the Quran and early Islam." "I am swimming against the stream here," he said, "as that isn't the word that comes to mind for most people with regard to Islam." Yet his elaborated revisionist history was unconvincing.
Cole explained his dubious thesis that any violent characteristics in Islam involved an ex post facto recasting of Islam's supposedly peaceful seventh-century prophet Muhammad. During the Abbasid caliphate (750-1258), "when the classical Arabic-Muslim corpus of work about Islam was formulated," Muhammad's biographers "wrote down his biography in such a way as to militarize it." "It is very stark, if you follow the Quran itself as your primary source, how different it is from these later times," Cole stated.