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Islam: What the West Needs to Know (2006)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 15 January 2006 (USA)
An examination of Islam, violence, and the fate of the non-Muslim world.


(co-director), (co-director)


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Credited cast:
Abdullah Al-Araby ...
Walid Shoebat ...
Robert Spencer ...
Serge Trifkovic ...
Bat Ye'or ...


An examination of Islam, violence, and the fate of the non-Muslim world.

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islam | See All (1) »


An examination of Islam, violence, and the fate of the non-Muslim world.




Not Rated


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Release Date:

15 January 2006 (USA)  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,184, 9 July 2006

Gross USA:

$22,939, 13 July 2006
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Did You Know?


Robert Spencer: The Islamic sources, the Islamic texts starting with the Qur'an, but not limited to the Qur'an, the Islamic texts including the Hadith, Islamic tradition, Islamic theology, Islamic law, the traditions of the interpretation of the Qur'an throughout history, and Islamic history itself, all bear witness to the fact that Islam has a developed doctrine, theology and law that mandates violence against unbelievers.
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User Reviews

Should be called "Fundamentalism: What the West Needs to Know"
17 August 2008 | by See all my reviews

I have been using IMDb for years and I never wanted to get involved in the commentary of movies…until now. This documentary has so many problems that I hardly know what to say. I am not a Muslim, nor am I an Islamic studies expert, but I know enough to shed some light on the obvious one-sided viewpoint that this documentary espouses.

The problems with this movie begin with the fact that it is a documentary. Most of the documentaries that I have seen anchor themselves around a few valid points and then surround those points with debatable interpretations and misinformation. This is certainly the case with Islam: What the West Needs to Know. Yes, there are fundamentalists around the world, and some of them are Muslim, but to build a documentary about all of Islam around a small percentage of radicalized people is incredibly misleading. This is really a documentary about the fundamentalist aspects of Islam and nothing more.

For those who would like to more objectively explore some of the issues raised in this documentary, here are several points that may help.

There was nothing positive about Islam presented in the documentary.

The documentary focuses on the Middle East, but more Muslims live outside of that region. More Muslims live in China, believe it or not, than in Saudi Arabia. About 40% of all Muslims live in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia.

The translation of the Qur'an used in the documentary is a questionable one. I watched the documentary while viewing another translation and the differences were striking. I had been warned about the translation that was used in the documentary and now I know why. Surrah 98:6 is a good example. The documentary suggests that the Surrah says that disbelievers will go to hell. But the translation I have reads instead: "Those who reject Truth among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists will be in hellfire." The difference is that those who reject Truth are those people who know about God and the Truth of God and decide to reject it anyways.

The movie mentioned that there is no morality inherent in Islam, but this is not true. Although it is true that much comes from the Qur'an and Hadith, Islam also recognizes a concept called 'Urf or "normative behavior." Obviously what is normative can be interpreted many ways, but 'Urf is meant to be "good" behavior, what an average person would consider right or wrong.

The documentary presents Shar'ia (Islamic Law) as being one unified body of knowledge that all Muslims follow. This is simply not true. There are many Islamic schools of law and they range from progressive and modernist to fundamentalist in the way they interpret law.

The Hadith tradition is similar. There are thousands of Hadith and each school of law accepts some and rejects others. Using the Hadith without serious scholarship to determine which ones are accurate, real and applicable, is indiscriminately picking and choosing quotations from history that fit what you want to say… which is what the documentary did.

What I hope people realize is that fundamentalism is the problem, not Islam or any other religion. Christianity has fundamentalists that shoot abortion clinic doctors and so on. I know this is not the same as suicide bombing, just understand that the righteousness of fundamentalism is arguably the problem. If you feel you have THE answer, then everyone else must be wrong. But if you feel you have AN answer you can work together with other people's views about politics, religion, God, or whatever.

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