Demystifying Islam1

Curt van den Heuvel

Why I am not a Muslim is a rare book. It is not often that one comes across Muslim apostates who are willing to openly share their views of Islam. As such, Warraq does an excellent job of demystifying Islam, and revealing it's very human origins.

Through several chapters devoted to Muhammed and the Koran, Warraq traces the development of Islamic thought in Arabia. Contrary to the opinions of Islamic propagandists, Warraq shows that the Koran evolved over several centuries (just like the Bible). As for Islamic tradition and practice, Warraq shows how Muhammed simply incorporated a number of elements from Arabia's pagan history into his 'new' religion.

But Warraq's best work is done in showing exactly how dangerous Islam really is. Beginning with Muhammed, violence, intolerance and human rights abuses have been part and parcel of Islam to this very day. This cannot be ascribed to isolated Fundamentalists, Warraq explains, but is built into the very core of the religion. Islam is Fundamentalism - it cannot be otherwise.

This raises a thorny ethical dilemma. Freedom of religion is a part of every civilised country. Having learned their lesson from the horrors of the past, few First World governments are willing to legislate the practice of religion in any way. However, what do we do when one of these religions is antithetical to everything that Democracy stands for? Islam does not recognise the right of any other religion to exist. Murder of apostates is not only condoned, but encouraged by the Prophet. Women are treated shamefully, and accorded a status far inferior to that of Muslim men. If we are going to give Muslims the right to practise their religion free of interference, can we not expect them to accord others the same right?

My only criticism of Warraq's book is that at times he goes into far too much historical detail, which detracts a little from it's overall message. There are one or two chapters which, in my view, could have been relegated to appendices. Other than that, Warraq's book is an excellent and concise reference for non-Muslims who wish to know more about the religion of Islam.



1 This review appeared on the website Honest Intellectual Enquiry, California, U.S.A., on 11 August 1997.


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