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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays Paperback – April 27, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"Ibn Warraq is a courageous writer on Islam and a passionate defender of reason who continues to struggle on behalf of reason with a culture that seems to be at odds with reason. In this respect, his work … is an indispensable tool for Muslims themselves so they can wage their struggle for enlightenment and reform of their faith tradition."
-Middle East Quarterly

About the Author

Ibn Warraq is the highly acclaimed author of Why I Am Not a Muslim, Virgins? What Virgins?, and Defending the West. He is also the editor of The Origins of the Koran, What the Koran Really Says, Leaving Islam, The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, and Which Koran?.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616141700
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616141707
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Ronald E. Parsons on October 18, 2010
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I bought <Virgins? What Virgins?> on the strength of one of Warraq's previous books, <Why I Am Not A Muslim>, which I consider to be one of the most informative of the many books about Islam currently circulating. <Virgins>, which is a collection of Warraq's essays and articles previously published elsewhere, did not disappoint. (I had not previously seen any of them).

Warraq (a pseudonym) was born and reared Muslim in India/Pakistan and was sent off at an early age to the UK for education. While there he began to question the faith (or politico-religions system) he was brought up in. Eventually he turned away from it.

Warraq is a very bright fellow who writes masterfully in English. His writing flows like a beautiful, clear brook. If you begin your inquiries into Islam with Warraq's two books above-mentioned, you will be ahead of the pack in your quest for such knowledge, and pleasantly so -- unless you are a committed follower of the Prophet. In that case you might start out as seeing Islam insulted. But if you pay close attention and keep an open mind, you could attain a level of clear thinking approaching that of Warraq.

I am glad that I stumbled upon Warraq's writings. They are among the best. From them I learned much. I keep them as reference works.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Lorna on February 3, 2011
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Ibn Warraq is without a doubt the most authoritative scholar and historian of Islam and Muslim society. Born as a Pakistani Muslim, he has distinguished himself in his honest, comprehensive and intellectually disciplined books as well as his insightful critiques and dissection of dissemblers like the late Edward Said. Like other disaffected Muslims who also live under pseudonyms in adopted countries, Warraq eschews ideology as indeed any serious credible critic and public intellectual must do to solidify his or her reputation and credentials. Along with his critique of Said in "Defending the West", this book should form part of the base of anyone's library or research on Islam and the Muslim mind. In a time of mindless extremism that puts ideology before truth, Warraq's books stand out as antidotes to intellectual dishonesty and mendacity.
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53 of 61 people found the following review helpful By William Garrison Jr. VINE VOICE on August 26, 2010
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"Virgins? What Virgins? and Other Essays" by Ibn Warraq, (April 2010), Prometheus Books, 544 pgs , English. This `anthology' is a collection of 18 of his "previously published works in newspaper and print and Web-based journals" - even for us long-time Ibn Warraq readers these reprints are suitable `collectables' still worthy of perusing. Chapter topics are: (1) On becoming English (growing up as a Muslim in Karachi c. 1950); (2) Apologia Pro Vita Sua; (3) Some aspects of the history of Koranic Criticism; (4) Introduction to "What the Koran Really Says"; (5) The importance of variants: Introduction to "Which Koran?"; (6) Virgins? What Virgins? (a 2002 article regarding the Houri); (7) Islam, the Middle East, and Fascism; (8) Apologists of Totalitarianism: From Communism to Islam; (9) Apostasy, human rights, religion, and belief; (10) Islam on Trial: Reasons for leaving Islam; (11) Reason, not revelation; (12) Honest intellectuals must shed their spiritual turbans: Islam--The Final Taboo; (13) Brother Tariq and the Muslim Hoods; (14) Rock, humanitarian causes, political commitment, and Islam; (15) The Regent's Canal and the trail to the British Raj, Parsis, and Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Readymoney; (16) Why the West is Best: My response to Tariq Ramadan; (17) Democracy in a cartoon (re Danish Muhammad cartoons); (18) Allawi and the `Crises of Islamic Civilization' (book review). There is an extensive, detailed 33-page-long index of topics from all articles. Ibn Warraq is of the Muslim Murtadd sect.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Puterbaugh on July 29, 2011
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"Ibn Warraq" has been one of my favorite authors ever since the publication of his groundbreaking "Why I am not a Muslim" --- especially with his hilarious chapter "Wine, Pigs, and Homosexuality" which spelled out for the world what Muslims really think about these "taboo" things. To summarize, Muslims from Tangier to Teheran blithely ignore the supposed taboos on wine and homosexuality, but they actually take the prohibition against pork seriously.

I could only nod my head as I read this chapter, because I have spent years living in Tunisia and Iran. In Tunisia, while I was there, the country was almost completely Francophone, so of course the sidewalk cafes sold beer, wine, and other liquors openly. Gay cruising in the evenings was simply a fact of life, with the young men wearing sprigs of jasmine behind their ears. In Iran, getting blind drunk on vodka was a weekend ritual (not to mention toking up on opium), and the gay cruising scene was just as intense.

However, both countries got very serious about pork! Go figure!

The new book contains startling information about the origins of the Koran, especially in the idea that much of the Koran may simply have been imported from Syriac-speaking Christianity. (See Luxenberg's The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran for the details. And note that "Luxenberg" is a pen-name, designed to preserve the author's life. All of this jibes rather well with the Iranian rumor that Muhammad spent the first forty years of his life as a Nestorian monk.
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