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Why I Am Not a Muslim Paperback – March 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"My favorite book on Islam is the rationalist critique Why I Am Not a Muslim."
- Christopher Hitchens in The Atlantic Monthly

". . . a courageous and prophethic call to value and protect human rights, especially the rights of women."
- National Catholic Reporter

"The problem with a book such as this is that it will most likely never reach those most in need of it. How many libraries will stock it, or dare stock it if they knew its contents?"
-The New Humanist

". . . transcends The Satanic Verses in terms of sacrilege. Where Rushdie offered an elusive critique of Islam in an airy tale of magical realism, Ibn Warraq brings a scholarly sledgehammer to the task of demolishing Islam. Such an act, especially for an author of Muslim birth, is so incendiary that the author must write under a pseudonym; not to do so would be an act of suicide"
- The Weekly Standard

" . . . a completely compelling case for the conclusion that Islam is flatly incompatible with the establishment and maintenance of the equal individual rights and liberties of a liberal, democratic, secular state."
- Salisbury Review

"Ibn Warraq has done for Islam what Bertrand Russell did for Christianity, but at much greater personal risk. . . . His [fate] would be that of Salman Rushdie's were he to reveal his true name rather than the pseudonym he uses. This book is must reading for all who would understand the possibilities and the dangers of affirming multi-culturalism in today's world."
-The Human Quest

"At long last a writer has risen to the challenge posed by this religion of compulsion. He 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. We must be extremely grateful to Ibn Warraq for his revealing book."
- Humanist in Canada

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: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591020115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591020110
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (326 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

456 of 503 people found the following review helpful By Tarik Armagan on September 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In 1990 'Free Inquiry Magazine' published an article called "Why I Am Not A Jew" by David Dvorkin. In its introduction the following words appeared:

"Atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers - call them whatever they prefer, virtually all of them share one very large blind spot: they are almost all ex-Christians, and therefore they measure their shiny new non-belief not against belief in general, but against Christianity in particular. It is thus ex-Christians who write the literature that, to the world at large, represents the views of non-believers. Literature that is specifically intended to present the arguments against religious belief tends in fact to present the arguments against Christian belief."

To be sure, Dvorkin's claim has a very solid foundation in fact: most of the modern anti-religion and atheist doctrines and theories stem from a disillusionment and deconstruction of the Christian faith. From Voltaire to Bertrand Russell ("Why I Am Not A Christian", 1927), the main object of scrutiny and scorn has been the Gospel of Christ, a set of tenets and moral teachings Voltaire famously referred to as the "most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world." Fortunately, for Voltaire, there has been a vast body of research and testimony to substantiate his sacrilegious claims. Unfortunately for Voltaire, not all of them are directed at the Christian faith.

The Eastern faiths (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism) make no claims of exclusivity, i.e. that salvation can only be found in their dogmas. The Western faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), however, do. Each proclaims itself the utter and infallible word of God and seeks to subjugate the world to its will. That's where Ibn Warraq comes in.
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116 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Len Oakes on March 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Despite what some reviewers have said I found this book to be quite moderate and conservative. The author clearly knows his materials, has thought his thesis through, and doesn't make cheap shots or take short-cuts. His acknowledgement of the high achievements of Islamic civilisation, as in the areas of science and poetry (just to name a couple, he could have added architecture and other outstanding accomplishments but that would just repeat points he has already made) reveal a good appreciation of the strengths of Islamic culture. But oh, someone had to say it; Islamic law, the treatment of women, and inherent extremism (again just a few examples among many) fall woefully short of what other great civilisations attained and ill-equip Muslims for dealing with the modern world with its secularism, rationalism, and egalitarianism. I was just left with a great sadness after completing the book.
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852 of 1,004 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In Why I Am Not A Muslim, Ibn Warraq, exposes the bitter truth about Islam without sugarcoating it. He is learned and his book is well documented. He lashes out at the western intellectuals who instead of condemning the assassination order of a savage man like Khomeini against Salman Rushdi, chose to criticize Rushdi for his book The Satanic Verses because it was not "politically correct". Warraq talks about the brutal treatments of all those who fell under the domination of Islam, from the time of Muhammad to the present days. He talks about the minorities, philosophers, women and slaves in Islam. Jews were massacred and exiled by Muhammad in Medina and Kheibar; their belongings were distributed among the "believers", their women and children taken as slaves. This heinous act of barbarism was repeated time and again throughout history with Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and in recent years with Ahmedies, Baha'is and other minorities in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, India, Syria and everywhere Islam reined.
Warraq talks about the origin of Islam, its pagan background and the influence of Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism on Muhammad. He talks about the origin of Allah in Arab culture, about the early days of Muhammad as a preacher and his rivalry with another storyteller "Al Nadir" and his revenge against him. Warraq traces back the origin of many Islamic rituals to Arab superstitions and Muhammad's strange belief in jinns, demons and other shadowy beings. He also describes how Muhammad rehashed the biblical nonsense about creation, Noah's Ark, birth of Christ etc. while misunderstanding a lot of it, like confusing Mary the mother of Christ with Miriam sister of Aaron, or the Christian belief in Trinity.
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62 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Fred W. Hallberg on April 11, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author tells us his title is modelled on Bertrand Russell's 1927 essay, "Why I am Not a Christian." Russell's essay was a superficial critique of Christianity which rested heavily on refuting the medieval "proofs" of the existence of God. But no one bases their religious beliefs on such "proofs." The author invokes Russell's name merely to signal that he, like Russell, is a free spirit who will follow the arguments and evidence wherever they lead.

The author tells us his real intellectual heroes are John Stuart Mill and Karl Popper. Mill wrote the 1859 essay "On Liberty," a lively defense of what American's call the "First Amendment rights" of freedom of conscience and expression. Popper wrote his two volume "The Open Society and Its Enemies" during his exile to Australia in W.W. II. Popper's thesis was that both human dignity and the validation of our general beliefs requires that our procedures of conjecture and criticism remain open and dynamic. The greatest failing of Islam, on this author's account, is that it aims to produce a closed society in which conjecture and criticism is impossible. Since Mill and Popper represent the essential thrust of modernity, Islam's greatest problem is how to come to terms with the modern world.

This is where the author's history of islam becomes so important. It is what makes his critique of Islam so much better grounded than Russell's critique of Christianity. It turns out Islam has been struggling to squelch dissent and diversity from its very beginning. Christians could not behave this way during the first four centuries of their existence, because they did not wield significant political power until then.
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