Dr. Jan Knappert
Ibn Warraq: Why I am not a Muslim. Prometheus Books, New York 1995, xvi, 402 pages, ISBN. 0-87975-984-4.
Ibn Warraq grew up in a Muslim family. Islam is a jealous religion so that any man who grew up in a Muslim family and is, for that reason considered a Muslim, not by his own volition, has to remain a Muslim for life, or else he is sentenced to death, and this sentence will be carried out as soon as a Muslim assassin can get him in the crossed hairs. Apostasy, in Arabic irtidad or ridda, is considered "treason" and a "danger to the (Islamic) state". An apostatic woman is not executed but imprisoned until she agrees to be a Muslim again.
Incidentally, let the reader have no illusion about the application of Islamic law: it is not limited to the borders of Islamic states, but it is universal, so, death will strike anywhere.
The above paragraphs only serve to explain why certain excellent writers have to live in hiding even in Western Europe, ever since they have lost their faith in Islam, and said so in public.
A Muslim woman has to wear the veil everywhere, not just within the borders of an Islamic state. If divorced, her children can be kidnapped from her and smuggled to an Islamic state; that is legal by Islamic principles, for the children belong to the father, whether they want to or not. Women and children have no choice in Islam, they just have to obey.
At long last a writer has risen to the challenge posed by this religion of compulsion in the Middle of the World, and has put together in one book all the objectionable rules of Islam, and has made it into one of the best books about Islam that I have seen in many years.
Ibn Warraq has divided his book into 18 chapters (though the number 18 does not appear in the table of contents), including all the subjects you ever wanted to know about such as: The Totalitarian Nature of Islam; Is Islam compatible with Democracy and Human Rights? (answer: no); Arabic Imperialism, Islamic Colonialism; the Arab conquests and the position of non-Muslim subjects. Here the Ottoman Empire should have been discussed, one of the cruellest empires that ever existed, especially in the 19th century, witness the massacres in Bulgaria in the 1870s. Even after the dissolution of the empire the Turks went on massacring Christians in Asia Minor, during the nineteen twenties. They did it so thoroughly, that Adolf Hitler, when learning about this, is said to have exclaimed: "What an excellent idea, we could try that on the Jews." He did. Now he stands condemned and the Turks go free. They can even continue their hideous work in Kurdistan with American agreement. But let us go back to this excellent book. It proposes: "to sow a drop of doubt in an ocean of dogmatic certainty by taking an uncompromising and critical look at almost all the fundamental tenets of Islam." (p. xiv)
To this end, the author quotes all the classical European Islamologists, including Arberry, Bell, Blachere, Bousquet, Gibb, Goldziher, Hiskett, Holt, Hughes, Hurgronje, Lane, Lewis, Margoliouth, Muir, Nicholson, Nöldeke, Schacht (Snouck is the same as Hurgronje), Watt, Wensinck, Zwemer and of course, as many Oriental scholars: Al-Ma'arri, Al-Bukhari, Ibn ISHaq etc.
My problem is that all these names are familiar to me, but this book for the first time sets out clearly the common message of all these scholars: that Islam if it will one day be used by a demagogue of Hitler's calibre, will be a weapon far more dangerous than Nazism, since it claims a universal tenet: world conquest willed by an Arabic speaking God. At the moment of writing the Muslims are busy reconquering Bosnia by means of enthusiastic American generals. Nato is busy creating a Trojan horse in Europe, for future Islamisation.
This book is so rich that it is difficult to review all the subjects Ibn Warraq discusses so capably. Very important is his, to me convincing, argumentation that Islamic history as we read it in most of the history books, is based on a number of fictions. Firstly, the Koran (ch. 5) is a book full of contradictions in a confused and pompous style. Yet, Muslims must believe that it is the true word of God, and memorise it. It is obvious to the careful reader that the Koran cannot be the word of God. Numerous passages are spoken by Muhammad. More worrying for Muslims is the fact that the Koran is obviously heavily edited at different periods of its history.
Chapter 4 deals with Muhammad who was probably an epileptic (p. 89-90) who also showed clear signs of schizophrenia, as a result of which he had visions of angels and devils.
In Medina, Muhammad organizes raids on passing caravans which, he says, are justified by God. Soon he encourages his followers to assassinate political opponents. The booty is his. Read on: it is a fascinating story of crimes:
Muhammad's life. Read also ch. 14: Women in Islam. That history still has to be written, although the first timid books written by women who had escaped from Islamic states are now appearing. It is a history of endless suffering at the hands of Muslim husbands who believe that women are treacherous demons, or at least tricky, amoral, irrational, unstable and so, inferior. This is one of the best chapters in the book, and should be studied by every woman contemplating to marry a Muslim man.
Islamic propaganda, funded by the unlimited means of the Gulf states, is responsible for a plethora of untrue ideas about Islam. Firstly, that it is a religion of peace. It is not and never was, witness the endless expansive wars fought by Muslim rulers and raiders. Even now the majority of conflicts of the world have Islam at their roots: Bosnia about which we are particularly misinformed, the Sudan, Chechenia, Afghanistan, Sin Kiang, Kashmir, Timor, Azerbeijan and the Philippines. Muslims will not rest before they rule the state. And when they do there will be no more democracy, witness the chapter on "the Position of non-Muslim subjects" (p. 214). Islam is a religion of dominance. The man has absolute power over his wives and children. The men in turn are ruled by the imam, the rector of the local mosque. No matter how peaceful a man's character may be, if his imam incites him from the pulpit to kill non-Muslims, he will do it, believing that it is God's will and therefore justified, even praiseworthy. The ruler of an Islamic state is always one man. If there is a woman prime minister she does not have the real power. Elections are either non-existent or a foreboding of disaster, as in the case of Algeria and Turkey. Enlightened rulers such as King Hassan, King Hussein or President Mubarak, is the best Islam can hope for. God forbid that Islam should ever come back to Europe. We shall all be slaves and serfs!
Greek Philosophy (chapter 11) never really influenced Islam. Some classical works on mathematics and medicine were translated into Arabic. Much fanfare is made about that, but it is forgotten that the essence of Greek science is development, not slavish copying. In Europe, science has developed, whereas in the Middle East it stagnated. Arab and other Muslim doctors still use the compendium of Galen (Gallenus, in Arbabic Djallênus) as pharmacology.
Ibn Warraq's book is so inspiring and so full of brilliant ideas and hard facts as well, that the reviewer never stops wanting to mention further chapters. Chapter 10 deals with Heretics and Heterodoxy, Atheism and Free Thought, Reason and Revelation. It proves that Islamic culture was never tolerant. Ibn Warraq displays here an incredible knowledge of Islamic philosophical history. It becomes clear while reading him that Islam did not produce or encourage the philosophers but condemned them; many died in prison.
They still do. The tyranny which we witness in Iran is not exceptional in the history of Islam. Persons of other persuasions have always been eliminated and exterminated. That is what is happening now to the Christians of Timor and Nias, those in Azerbeijan, the Sudan and Algeria.
Chapter 17 is likewise of vital importance for all social scientists, and: for all social workers. Muslims mutilating the genitals of girls will claim that they have a right to do so since our countries protect religious freedom (their own countries do not). There is, however, a limit to the freedom any religion can claim, when such freedom results in suffering either of children or of animals, as in the case of slaughter without anesthesia. Forced marriages of minors is a problem that feminists will have to turn their attention to. But it is easier to confront western men who are infinitely more reasonable, than Muslims, who are polite but determined. When Islam comes, men have little to lose, but women lose their freedom of movement, freedom of employment and so forth.
We must be extremely grateful to Ibn Warraq for his revealing book.