Naomi Sherer reviews...
WHY I AM NOT A MUSLIM
I wish to explore the religion of Islam, Muslims, with the insight of one who has been there. One who did not simply turn away but speaks out with clarity and understanding of Islamic history. He is Ibn Warraq, author of a perceptive book, Why I Am Not A Muslim. His essay on secularism which I read in a publication of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, revealed an entirely different history of the religion than I had been led to believe. He proposes to develop a liberal and secularist position in the Muslim world and the way to do that is to open minds to the true origins of the Islamic religion. I quote:
"Truth is the essential weapon in the secular humanist's battle against the meretricious myths about early Islam. In the words of Arthur Schlesinger, 'honest history is the weapon of freedom'. We must remind our audiences of reality, the truth, namely:
1) That the early putative heroes of Islam such Khalid b. Walid showed no interest in religion whatsoever, and were more concerned with war and its attendant benefits, loot, women and land.
2) That indeed Islam cannot even be said to have existed in its final form. The definitive text of the Koran had still not been achieved as late as the ninth century. Thus it is not surprising that the early 'Muslims' were incredibly ignorant of their creed.
3) That though the Islamic caliphate may have been established to serve the cause of Islam (a debatable point itself) in fact it only served the interest of a small group of rich and powerful men who maintained it by autocratic and tyrannical means. The early history of Islam is but a chronicle of a series of bitter civil wars punctuated with assassinations - the second, third and fourth caliphs were all murdered."
Ibn Warraq insists that the Islamic civilization reached magnificent heights despite what the prophet taught and what the theologians developed, not because of them. He is working on an anthology of critical articles on the Koran for Prometheus Books and is open to suggestions as to its content. He especially welcomes an English translation of Taha Husein's critique of the Koran. He explains the need for translations in English and other languages because there are over 300 million Muslims in the world who do not speak, read or write Arabic. And why not translations of freethought classics into Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Bengali?
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|All quotations used with permission of author|
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