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Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out Hardcover – May 1, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...probably the first book of its kind...testimonies from former Muslims about their estrangement from the Islamic faith." -- New York Review of Books, April 29, 2004

"Leaving Islam's stories make eye-opening reading." -- Boston Globe

From the Inside Flap

In the West, those who abandon their religion (apostates) find it to be a difficult, emotional decision that sometimes carries with it social repercussions, such as physical and psychological isolation from family, friends, and colleagues. However, in culturally diverse societies with a mixture of ethnic groups and various philosophies of life, most people look upon such intellectual shifts in allegiance as a matter of personal choice and the right of the individual. In stark contrast, the socially restricted Muslim world still views apostasy as an unthinkable act, and orthodox Muslims consider it a crime punishable by death. Renowned scholar of Islamic Studies Bernard Lewis has described the seriousness of leaving the Islamic faith in dire terms: "Apostasy was a crime as well as a sin, and the apostate was damned both in this world and the next. His crime was treason--desertion and betrayal of the community to which he belonged, and to which he owed loyalty; his life and property were forfeit. He was a dead limb to be excised."

Defying the death penalty that all apostates potentially face in the Islamic world, the ex-Muslims represented here feel it is their duty to speak up against their former faith, to tell the truth about the fastest-growing religion in the world. These former Muslims--some born into the faith; others, Western converts--from all parts of the Islamic world recount how they slowly came to realize that their religion was in many respects unbelievable and sometimes even dangerous.

These memoirs and journals of personal journeys to enlightenment and intellectual freedom make for moving reading and are a courageous signal to other ex-Muslims to openly express their views.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591020689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591020684
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am from a British Pakistani upbringing and I currently live in the United States. These stories of brave, beautiful and noble apostates are very much the story of my mother, my sister and me. We were living in London's East End when my father began a very disturbing turn to Islamic fundamentalism. His humour and lovable nature disappeared. He became a completely different person, devoted to Wahhabism. He hated the West in every way shape or form. When we were in France, he said he wanted to beat a girl who was sunbathing topless on a nearby beach. He began striking my mother regularly. One day he was going off on one of his anti-Western diatribes when he had to answer his cell phone. When he hung up, I said that if he hates the West so much, he should stop using a cell phone as it was developed with Western technology and science. Then he hit me.

My family left him quickly and quietly one afternoon, and we have never returned since.

I will be blunt. Islam does not value life. It does not value love. It does not value progression or enlightenment. The only thing Islam values is the worship of a god. And not just any god, but a brutal war god who commands his children to kill one another. You often hear lukewarm and moderate Muslims saying that fundamentalists, Wahhabists and Islamists do not represent true Islam. They are lying. It is they who are not following true Islam.

As afraid of Islam as the West is, the truth is Islam is much more afraid of the West and the changing 21st century world. It is out of fear that the radical cleric orders a fatwa against apostates and critics of the faith.
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Format: Hardcover
Muslims are so determined to call their religion the fastest growing in the world that they refuse to acknowledge the fact that many of us who covert to it rapidly leave it. I am one of these. I converted because my Muslim husband insisted that he was committing a great sin to be married to me when I wasn't a Muslim. He'd been trying his best to teach it to me while at the same time pointedly separating me from non-Muslim friends and family. Then he gave me the whole spiel about Islam being so scientific, so fair and kind to women,that hijab was a choice, not an obligation, and Islam was SOOOO peaceful. I loved, respected, and trusted him so much, I actually believed him and converted to Islam.
Afterwards, we went to visit the Islamic country of his origin (Iran) and I got to see real Islam in action. I was dismayed, even horrified, to say the least. As a woman, I had neither civil rights nor respect. Quite suddenly, I become a trophy bride and captive sans all the basic freedoms that I, as an American, had always taken for granted. When I went to the Koran and other Islamic scriptures to find support for my missing rights, I found, quite to the contrary, that my trusted husband had LIED to me about the whole thing.
Islam is NOT scientific, NOT fair or kind to women,DOES require hijab under threat of violence to those who would refuse it, and - as current Islamist terrorist activities have proven - it is NOT one bit peaceful.
Yes, we apostates DO exist. In Islamic countries, those who are discovered are killed by Muslims for their honesting in disavowing Islam. Elsewhere, Muslims just try to shut us up and say we don't exist. Well, they're wrong. Those of us who are consciencious, intelligent, and confident, honest, and have found out the truth, can not help but leave Islam.
Ibn Warraq is telling a plain truth that is simply unpalatable to Muslims. Well too bad: the truth is simply the truth and it's about time more people knew it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No question, Ibn Warraq's Leaving Islam includes many important essays by former Muslims, by birth or conversion, who subsequently renounced their faith.

Ibn Warraq deserves ample credit for this excellent work, which others have called "a companion of sorts to his own personal statement, Why I am Not a Muslim."

Despite the Qu'ranic declaration (2:256), "There is no compulsion in religion," traditional Islam both historically and currently consider apostasy (the abandonment of the "one true faith") a capital offense. You desert, you die.

That item of religious belief, along with many others, are often used by Muslim governments "to silence free thinkers and spread a blanket of totalitarian control over [their] communities," as one reviewer has written.

Ibn Warraq's collection provides several notable early examples of apostates, including Ar-Rawandi (c. 820-830) and Ar-Razi (865-925), the poets Omar Khayyam (c. 1048-1131) and Hafiz (c. 1320-89), and Sufis like Mansur ibn Hallaj (d. 922) and As-Suhrawardi (d. 1191), but the issue "has not seriously been documented or investigated." Undoubtedly that results primarily from the risks to a former Muslim of openly discussing his or her abandonment of Islam.

The former Muslims included in Ibn Warraq's compelling book hail from many locales, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Iran, Tunisia, Turkey, Malaysia and Morocco.

Ibn Warraq has great courage and passion in defending reason. His struggle is that of "a culture ... at odds with reason." This book is indispensable for Muslims who hope that Islam will adopt enlightenment and reform.

True enough, Islam needs reform from within. And former Muslims can and should influence this discussion. They could have great influence, if only the majority of practicing Muslims would listen to them and demand reform, accordingly.

--Alyssa A. Lappen
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