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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Devastating Critique of Islam and Western "Liberal" Apologists for it. "Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out" by Ibn Warraq. Book Review

Ibn Warraq's "Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out" offers a devastating indictment of Islam. Reading this book could be a life-altering experience for those Muslims who dared to do so. Also condemned: Islam's Western, "liberal" apologists and the dogma of cultural relativism. A woman tortured by the Islamic Republic of Iran, where torture was accompanied by recitations of Koranic verses, a survivor of what he calls Islamic "genocide" in Bangladesh, a woman who despises being forced to wear the veil: all accuse Westerner apologists of betraying Islam's victims and of deserting the true liberal's duty to stand for freedom, peace, and human dignity.

The majority of the authors grew up as Muslims in Muslim countries; a minority are Western converts who abandoned their adopted faith. Authors hail from throughout the Muslim world, including Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Malaysia. These authors were once children who committed the entire Koran to memory. They attended Muslim universities and studied with experts. One man admits that he killed innocent non-Muslims in the name of Islam.

These Muslim-born critics of Islam and Muslim societies offer some of the harshest and most utterly unforgiving criticisms of Islam available. They pull no punches: Islam is why my country is poor, ignorant and corrupt; Islam was the ideology used to justify the genocidal murder of my neighbors; Islam kept me and my fellow women in chains.

The authors make a mockery of the dogma of cultural relativism, so often cited by Western apologists: all cultures are equal; no one culture is any better than any other. We were the ones who suffered under Islam, they shout. You Western "liberals" made excuses for the people who denied us full lives, who tortured us and, once we became apostates, who denied us any life at all. Apostasy is a capital crime in Islam and punishable by death. And you Western "liberals" make excuses for that. You betray your own tradition of freedom and human dignity.

Cultural relativism insists that those who grow up in a culture will be happy with features of that culture that outsiders might criticize, for example, Islam's treatment of women. The pages of this book belie that assertion. These former Muslim authors are outraged by the very same features of Islam that outrage non-Muslims. Specifically, they object to jihad, gender apartheid, Islam's anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and dhimmitude.

They object to the sadistic tortures for unbelievers, both in this life and in the afterlife, outlined in detail in the Koran. In this life, no Muslim should take non-Muslim friends. Rather, non-Muslims should be crucified; their hands and feet should be cut off. In the afterlife, non-Muslims will be dressed in clothing made of fire, they will be dragged into boiling water, they will be hooked on iron rods, and their skin will melt. Their melted skin will be replaced with fresh skin so they can be tortured anew.

This book's authors object to Mohammed's transparent cruelty, narcissism, and megalomania. One former Muslim describes doubt creeping in when he read in the Koran, sura 49, that one must not speak loudly to Mohammed. Would God really command such a trivial thing, a command designed solely to cement Mohammed's superior position? Another asked why Muslims must constantly bless Mohammed, as if he were a deity. Why did God himself pray for Mohammed? Another wondered why God speaks only Arabic.

One former Muslim wondered why God needed women, even if they were alone, to cover themselves before prayer. Several former Muslims report being deeply disturbed by Mohammed's claiming Aisha when she was six years old and he was over fifty. They were troubled by accounts of Mohammed enjoying watching Aisha play with dolls. They recoiled from Mohammed's use of captive women whose menfolk he had just murdered, and his treatment of women as war booty for his troops.

One former Muslim dismisses Edward Said, the Arab author of "Orientalism," a book that descries Western criticism of Islam: Edward Said wrote "nothing to vindicate Islam from the obvious charges against it." Bernard Lewis, a scholar excoriated by Islam apologists, "is a much better guide to Islam than Said," wrote this former Muslim.

The most harrowing account in the book is by a survivor of the Bangladesh War of 1971. The author describes atrocities he witnessed and barely missing his own death. He details how Pakistanis used Islamic concepts as the rationale for their atrocities. Mass murder of Hindus was justifiable, these Pakistanis reasoned, because, by Muslim standards, they were polytheists unworthy of life. Mass rape was similarly justified using Koranic verses and Islamic precedents regarding the treatment of women in war. The attitude of Pakistanis toward their conduct in this ugly war is echoed by Anwar Shaikh, who used his own understanding of Islam to murder innocent Sikhs for no other reason than that they were not Muslims.

Every claim that the book makes is substantiated with extensive quotes from the Koran, hadith, and mainstream Islamic opinion and tradition. Ibn Warraq is contemptuous of attempts to whitewash the meaning of "jihad" and he offers ample support for his position.

In 1987, US President Ronald Reagan uttered a world-changing line, "Tear down this wall!" His reference was to the wall, and to the Soviet system, that kept Eastern Europeans captive. Some brave leader must issue the same challenge to the Muslim world: "Tear down your walls." Eliminate capital punishment for apostates from Islam and critics of it. Allow free debate of Islam. Only then can Muslims know if Islam's 1.6 billion followers follow the faith because they accept, respect, and believe in its teachings, and not because they are afraid of being murdered by their fellow Muslims if they voice one peep of criticism.

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