IN THE MAIL: Zachary Karabell’s Peace Be upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence. From the blurb:
Historians have so often focused on religious conflict–crusades, jihads, pogroms–that Karabell fears many readers have forgotten how often the devout have lived in peace with those of different faiths. To dispel this unfortunate forgetfulness, he develops a wide-ranging narrative highlighting epochs of interfaith toleration and cooperation. Readers visit, for instance, ninth-century Baghdad, where a Muslim caliph invited Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist theologians to compare beliefs; later, the tour moves on to thirteenth-century Toledo, where Muslims, Jews, and Christians collaborated in translating important classical texts; and, still later, Karabell turns to mid-twentieth-century Beirut, where disparate religions hammered out a national pact for sharing governance. Karabell concedes that some regimes have pursued ecumenical harmony merely to secure economic and political advantage, but he insists that such harmony actually reflects peace-fostering doctrines central to all of the Abrahamic faiths. Applying such doctrines, Karabell concedes, has grown more difficult in a modern world transformed by the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism.
I noted way back in the early days of InstaPundit that many people have a simplistic view of Islam — one fostered, ironically, by the fundamentalists, who want everyone to think that they’re the true and only face of Islam. This book looks as if it might be a useful corrective, though of course the people who really need to be persuaded are unlikely to read it.