It features discussions using passages from religious texts and includes commentaries by Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, Bat Ye'or, Abdullah Al-Araby, and Walid Shoebat.
The film premiered at the American Film Renaissance Festival in Hollywood on January 15, 2006 and had a limited theatrical release in Chicago, Washington DC, and Atlanta in summer 2006. The film had caught attention mainly through its distribution via web.
Islam: What the West Needs to Know argues that Islam is a violent religion bent on world domination. The documentary uses passages from the canonical texts of Islam as its source material. It is presented in six parts:
1. There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet: In the first part, various commentators argue that Islamic violence stems from the teachings and examples of Muhammad and that the Qur'an prescribes and sanctions violence against non-Muslims.
2. The Struggle: In the second part, Walid Shoebat defines the word "Jihad" to mean the struggle to impose Allah's will over the earth, resulting in holy war against the non-Muslim world to bring it under the rule of Islam.
3. Expansion: In the third part, Bat Ye'or describes the expansion of Islam through conquest and presents historical evidence of enslavement and massacres of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and Hindus by Muslim invaders.
4. War is Deceit: In the fourth part, Robert Spencer and Serge Trifkovic discuss the Islamic principle of Taqiyya, Islamic dissimulation, which, the lecturers argue, enjoins Muslims to deceive non-Muslims to advance the cause of Islam.
5. More than a Religion: In the fifth part, the documentary asserts that "Islamic law governs every aspect of religious, political, and personal action, which amounts to a form of totalitarianism that is divinely enjoined to dominate the world, analogous in many ways to Communism".
6. The House of War: The final part covers the division of the world into Dar al-Islam ("the house of Islam" or "the house of peace"), the land governed by the Islamic law, and Dar al-Harb ("the house of war"), the land of non-Muslims. According to the film, Muslims are enjoined to bring the Dar al-Harb under the control of Islam. The film argues, "Muslims in Western nations are called to subvert the secular regimes in which they now live in accordance with Allah's command."