Why I Am Not a Muslim
by Ibn Warraq
Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1995. 402 pp. $25.95.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Outraged by Ayatollah Khomeini's assault on Salman Rushdie, "Ibn Warraq" (identified only as someone having grown up in a country now called an Islamic republic, who is now living and teaching in Ohio) was galvanized to write an attack on Islam. The result is a unique book; in contrast to Rushdie's airy magical realism, "Ibn Warraq" brings a scholarly sledge-hammer to the task of discrediting Islam.
With few exceptions, he relies almost entirely on the Western tradition of Islamic studies for insights on such varied subjects as the person and career of Muhammad, the treatment of women, and Muslim emigration to the West. His conclusion is severe: "on balance, the effects of the teachings of the Koran have been a disaster for human reason and social, intellectual, and moral progress." From the beginning, Islam has been a fraud. Muhammad probably never existed, or if he did, had nothing to do with the Qur'an. Likewise, "The whole of Islamic law is but a fantastic creation founded on forgeries and pious fictions." Islam succeeded through aggression and intimidation. The early Islamic conquests, for example, were extremely aggressive: "Bowing toward Arabia five times a day must surely be the ultimate symbol of this cultural imperialism"
Despite his anger, "Ibn Warraq" has written a serious and thought-provoking book that calls not for a wall of silence, much less a Rushdie-like fatwa on the author's life, but an equally compelling response from a believing Muslim.
Related Topics: Daniel Pipes | March 1996 MEQ
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