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Author: Ibn Warraq
When it comes to exposing the baseness of religious dogma, Ibn Warraq proves a one-man-demolition squad, particularly when the religion in target is Islam. The title of Warraq’s book Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out (Prometheus Books, New York, 2003) is just the start of Warraq’s challenge that thrashes the tyrannical Islamic notion of possession: kill those who leave Islam. However, it’s not a one-man team here that probes into the doctrinal grounds of Islamic fanaticism; we are reading a number of testimonies from former Muslims from around the world who dared to express their disbelief in Islam.
The first-hand experience of living, and leaving, Islam adds a considerable degree of force to the voices of the apostates who were driven to quit their fidelity to Islam either by reason or by personal experience with Islam, more often by both. Islam’s notions of apostasy, the inferiority of women, hostility towards non-Muslims especially Jews and Christians, and Islam’s prophet Muhammad’s own tumultuous life are all explored daringly in Warraq’s fiery work. The summative effect of reading Leaving Islam tends to be a feeling of revising one’s conception of the Islamic creed.
Warraq’s Leaving Islam takes the readers back to history when ‘apostates’ were persecuted and even put to death under the Islamic law in various parts of the Muslim-dominated world, especially the ancient Persia. The book tells how this tyrannical law of apostasy survives to date in some Muslim countries like Iran. A former Muslim and contemporary atheist, Ibn Warraq pens down brief case studies of former Muslims like Ali Sina and Dr. Nasr Abu Zayd who now stand as formidable scholars against the threatening advance of Islamic toward human rights and freedom to personal belief.
Leaving Islam is a 470 pages book, and the recurring theme of living and leaving Islam in the testimonies of ‘apostates’ incurs some monotony in the reading. Shorter accounts might have done better, as is the case of Nadia’s testimony from Morocco, The Wind Blowing Through My Hair (p. 301). Also there are few testimonies from the developed west, leaving questions about Islam’s status in that region of the world. Perhaps, Warraq is going to undertake another groundbreaking work, just like Leaving Islam, to cover more ground.
With complete references to the quoted content and a set of appendices to various guiding sources, Warraq’s Leaving Islam is a must-read for anyone who is not well-aware of the darker side of Islam.
The above review was contributed by: Ernest Dempsey, pen name of Karim Khan. Karim is from Pakistan and is a Research Associate in Geology who writes fiction, nonfiction, and book reviews. To read more of Karim's Review CLICK HERE