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Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out Hardcover – May 1, 2003
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"...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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These apostates had the inane intellectual ability to understand and to grasp what Islam was about, and had the courage to break free. Good for them and all who read this book and find ways to also break free.
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
Before reading this, I had met apostates of Islam and heard their stories. I was very shocked by what I heard. I could not conceive that this was happening now, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
This book only confirmed what I have been told. Not even ex-Muslims living in the West are safe.
What really got to me, was the repeated betrayal these people felt. Betrayed by a religion they thought they knew. Betrayed by the people they loved - families and friends who turned their backs on them after leaving Islam.
Another thing many of their stories convey is the utter depair of having the rug, the ground ripped out from under you. Just falling and falling. Being left with no direction, no faith, etc.
I could just weep for these people.
The scary thing is being told over and over, by these apostates that those who say Islam means "Peace", say that the fundamentists do not represent true Islam, are wrong, it is true Islam.
A wake-up call to the West and highly recommended. Lots of information that is backed up well with footnotes, etc.
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THERE IS NO SUCH PERSON CALLED IBN WARRAQ. HE SIMPLY DOES NOT EXIST.Read more