Islam Critiqued by Ex-Muslims

By Gardiner, Anne Bateau | New Oxford Review, January/February 2020 | Go to article overview

Islam Critiqued by Ex-Muslims


Gardiner, Anne Bateau, New Oxford Review


IsLam Critiqued by Ex-Muslrns L'Islam mis a nu par les siens: Anthologie d'auteurs arabophones post 2001. Edited by Maurice Saliba. Preface by Henri Boulad, S.J. Riposte Laique. 350 pages. €19.50.

According to Fr. Henri Boulad, an Egyptian Jesuit who has authored 30 books, L'Islam mis á nu par les siens (translated Islam Laid Bare by Its Own) is unique. The first anthology of essays by former Muslims ever to be published, it was translated from Arabic with permission and contains searing criticisms of the religion in which these ex-Muslims were raised. Surprisingly, a number of the authors were members of the Muslim Brotherhood or were graduates of, and even teachers at, Al-Azhar University in Egypt. Fr. Boulad finds it "scandalous" that Catholic clergy have avoided a similar quest for truth over the past 60 years on the pretext that they are respecting the faith of Muslims in their interreligious dialogue. "This is not the way to love them," he says.

Maurice Saliba explains that since 9/11 there has been an explosion of websites in the Arabic language that discuss how the Qur'an is incompatible with Western laws and constitutions. A majority of the essays in this book can be found online at ahewar.org, a name that means "civilized dialogue." This site surpasses all other Arab media in its outreach and has an "immense archive." Online criticism of Islam is a new phenomenon, a revolutionary movement that eludes the control of the imams, Islam's religious leaders. Among these sites are two Christian ones: Al-Hayat.tv and Al-Fady.tv.

Saliba opens the book with a survey of the predecessors of the new critics. More than a thousand years ago, Al-Rawandi, Al-Warraq, and the Mutazilites, among others, criticized Islam in the name of reason, but such criticism was suppressed in the 11th century. Then, in the 20th century, a number of Muslims tried to reform Islam, among them Ali Abderraziq, an Egyptian; Al-Qasimi, a Saudi Arabian; and Al-Wardi, an Iraqi. All three called for the separation of religion and politics in Muslim countries. Two others who were teaching at Al-Azhar University were expelled for criticizing Islam: Abu Zayd, for urging that the Qur'an be interpreted from a humanist perspective, and Subhy Mansour, for rejecting sharia law. Two more would-be reformers, men devoted to the natural rights and dignity of man, were put to death in recent years after being condemned by Al-Azhar: Mahmoud Taha, a Sudanese, in 1985, and Faraq Fouda, an Egyptian, in 1992. Egyptian thinker Al-Qimni called Al-Azhar the source of terrorism in the world. Two other reformers remain in prison: Raef Badawi, a Saudi Arabian who called for freedom of speech and women's rights, and Abdallah Nasr, an Egyptian and a graduate of Al-Azhar who said that cutting off hands for stealing is wrong.

Islam Laid Bare by Its Own offers 46 essays criticizing Islam. Saliba tells us that their authors have not been manipulated by anti-Islamic forces; they speak from their own lived experience. Several of them explain how "totalitarian" and "barbaric" this religion is. Abdelnour and Ahmed Daoud say it reduces a person to a slave obliged to obey without reflection whatever the Qur'an commands, such as killing and mutilating non-Muslims, denying the dignity of women, and believing things incompatible with science and human aspirations. Amil Imani speaks of an "Islamofascism" that enslaves the spirit, and Abdel-Samad, formerly of the Muslim Brotherhood, speaks of a "fascist ideology" that inspires Islam's "obsessional dream of conquering the world." Likewise, Ahmad Buhjat sees a "fascistic logic" that persecutes liberty of thought, and Ahmad Adnan sees a stripping away of human and intellectual development so that Muslims become the "living dead." Psychiatrist Wafa Sultan, author of A God Who Hates, says the Qur'an is worse than Hitler's Mein Kampf in that its ideology merges politics with religion. She adds that, once believed, it erects mental barriers between the self and reality. …

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