By Robert Spencer

My new book, “Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam’s Obscure Origins,” is out this week, and it has already aroused anger among Muslims: A Muslim writer named Hussein Rashid, who is an instructor at the Center for Spiritual Inquiry at Park Avenue Christian Church, fulminated in Religion Dispatches that my book on Muhammad will win praise only from the “Islamophobia industry” – as if the book itself were a manifestation of hatred and bigotry.

I’m reminded of the words of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh as the Islamic jihadist Mohammed Bouyeri began sawing his head off in retaliation for his film “Submission” about the plight of Muslim women: “Can’t we talk about this?” No, we can’t. In America, speaking unpopular truths about Islam won’t get you murdered, but it will get you consigned to the outer darkness, where hatemongers and bigots weep and gnash their teeth. Many people wouldn’t dare write (or read) a book entitled “Did Muhammad Exist?” for fear of getting Muslims angry and getting called names.

I, on the other hand, am determined to respect Muslims and treat them as adults. In fact, that’s why I wrote “Did Muhammad Exist?” – for I believe that even in the politically correct United States of 2012, we should be able to discuss in an adult manner the historical evidence for and against the existence of Muhammad. The Scriptures and religious figures of Judaism and Christianity have been subjected to searching historical scrutiny since the 18th century. No one riots, no one threatens, no one gets killed as a result of these investigations – no one rails against the “Judeophobia industry” or “Christianophobia industry.” To be sure, some historical critics have been motivated by an animus toward the religion they’re studying, but no one in the West is interfering with their right to undertake such study. Only around Islam does the scholarly community walk on eggshells.

It’s time to stop. Not only should the quest for the historical Muhammad be carried on in our nation’s universities, but we should dare to treat Muslims as adults in other ways as well. Instead of politically correct obfuscation about the political and supremacist aspects of Islam, there should be a vigorous public debate about the ways in which Islamic law, Shariah, is incompatible with pluralistic democracy, and the ways in which Islam is incompatible with Western ideas of human rights.

Moreover, as adults we ought not to have to make patronizing references to the “Noble People of Afghanistan,” as Gen. John Allen did in his embarrassingly obsequious apology to the Afghans for the inadvertent burning of Qurans on a NATO base. As adults we ought not to have to pretend that the “Arab Spring” is a glorious flowering of freedom when in fact it is a series of pro-Shariah Islamic-supremacist takeovers.

If we treat Muslims as adults instead of as children, we will not turn our heads and pretend that we don’t see when Muslims in Nigeria burn churches and brutalize Christians. Nor will we ignore the Muslim persecution of Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere. If we treat Muslims as adults, we will not turn a blind eye when Saudi Arabia executes women for sorcery. We will not turn our heads and pretend we don’t see when Muslim countries execute homosexuals. We will not pretend that the Muslim women around the world, and increasingly in the U.S., who are victims of honor killings do not exist and never did exist. Nor will we refuse to listen when Iran makes genocidal threats against Israel.

No, if we really treat Muslims with respect, then we will hold them to the same standard as everyone else. We will not kowtow before their expressions of anger and outrage, or curtail our speech or our thoughts in the face of their irrational and manipulative charges of “bigotry” and “hatred.” We will expect them to understand that in a pluralistic society such as ours, we all have to put up with things we don’t like without killing or threatening or defaming one another.

“Did Muhammad Exist?” is a book that asks legitimate historical questions that a few courageous scholars have been working on for quite some time. Let’s accord Muslims the respect we would automatically give to anyone else, and treat them as adults who are able to abide the possibility of such historical questions being asked – rather than as tantrum-inclined children around which we all must tiptoe. For insofar as we bow before false labeling or even physical intimidation, we are that much less free.

Note: Are you courageous enough to order Spencer’s new book, “Did Muhammad Exist?” If so, go to WND’s Supstore and order your copy today.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times best-sellers, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)” and “The Truth About Muhammad.” His latest book, “Did Muhammad Exist?”, is now available.

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