Volume > Issue > Islam Critiqued by Ex-Muslims

Islam Critiqued by Ex-Muslims

L’Islam mis à nu par les siens: Anthologie d’auteurs arabophones post 2001

By Edited by Maurice Saliba. Preface by Henri Boulad, S.J.

Publisher: Riposte Laïque

Pages: 350

Price: €19.50

Review Author: Anne Barbeau Gardiner

Anne Barbeau Gardiner, a Contributing Editor of the NOR, is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She has published on Dryden, Milton, and Swift, as well as on Catholics of the 17th century.

According to Fr. Henri Boulad, an Egyptian Jesuit who has authored 30 books, L’Islam mis à nu par les siens (translated Islam Laid Bare by Its Own) is unique. The first anthology of essays by former Muslims ever to be published, it was translated from Arabic with permission and contains searing criticisms of the religion in which these ex-Muslims were raised. Surprisingly, a number of the authors were members of the Muslim Brotherhood or were graduates of, and even teachers at, Al-Azhar University in Egypt. Fr. Boulad finds it “scandalous” that Catholic clergy have avoided a similar quest for truth over the past 60 years on the pretext that they are respecting the faith of Muslims in their interreligious dialogue. “This is not the way to love them,” he says.

Maurice Saliba explains that since 9/11 there has been an explosion of websites in the Arabic language that discuss how the Qur’an is incompatible with Western laws and constitutions. A majority of the essays in this book can be found online at ahewar.org, a name that means “civilized di­alogue.” This site surpasses all other Arab media in its outreach and has an “immense archive.” Online criticism of Islam is a new phenomenon, a revolutionary movement that eludes the control of the imams, Islam’s religious leaders. Among these sites are two Christian ones: Al-Hayat.tv and Al-Fady.tv.

Saliba opens the book with a survey of the predecessors of the new critics. More than a thousand years ago, Al-Rawandi, Al-Warraq, and the Mutazilites, among others, criticized Islam in the name of reason, but such criticism was suppressed in the 11th century. Then, in the 20th century, a number of Muslims tried to reform Islam, among them Ali Abderraziq, an Egyptian; Al-Qasimi, a Saudi Arabian; and Al-Wardi, an Iraqi. All three called for the separation of religion and politics in Muslim countries. Two others who were teaching at Al-Azhar University were expelled for criticizing Islam: Abu Zayd, for urging that the Qur’an be interpreted from a humanist perspective, and Subhy Mansour, for rejecting sharia law. Two more would-be reformers, men devoted to the natural rights and dignity of man, were put to death in recent years after being condemned by Al-Azhar: Mahmoud Taha, a Sudanese, in 1985, and Faraq Fouda, an Egyptian, in 1992. Egyptian thinker Al-Qimni called Al-Azhar the source of terrorism in the world. Two other reformers remain in prison: Raef Badawi, a Saudi Arabian who called for freedom of speech and women’s rights, and Abdallah Nasr, an Egyptian and a graduate of Al-Azhar who said that cutting off hands for stealing is wrong.

Islam Laid Bare by Its Own offers 46 essays criticizing Islam. Saliba tells us that their authors have not been manipulated by anti-Islamic forces; they speak from their own lived experience. Several of them explain how “totalitarian” and “barbaric” this religion is. Abdelnour and Ahmed Daoud say it reduces a person to a slave obliged to obey without reflection whatever the Qur’an commands, such as killing and mutilating non-Muslims, denying the dignity of women, and believing things incompatible with science and human aspirations. Amil Imani speaks of an “Islamo-fascism” that enslaves the spirit, and Abdel-Samad, formerly of the Muslim Brotherhood, speaks of a “fascist ideology” that inspires Islam’s “obsessional dream of conquering the world.” Likewise, Ahmad Buhjat sees a “fascistic logic” that persecutes liberty of thought, and Ahmad Adnan sees a stripping away of human and intellectual development so that Muslims become the “living dead.” Psychiatrist Wafa Sultan, author of A God Who Hates, says the Qur’an is worse than Hitler’s Mein Kampf in that its ideology merges politics with religion. She adds that, once believed, it erects mental barriers between the self and reality. Historian Diana Ahmad notes that Islam conquered peoples and lands by the sword and made their conquests “sacred” by saying that the loss of culture and traditions was a benefit for the conquered. Salah Youssef says he read and reread the Sira, the official biography of Muhammad, and was stupefied to see the extent to which violence and terror were used to prove him a prophet.

A second theme in this book is the lack of historical development in Islamic nations. Al-Qahtani warns that the “totalitarian ideology” of Islam condemns Muslims to live in a state of underdevelopment, barbarism, and civilizational suicide. Nidal Naissa sees poverty, despotism, ignorance, and the violation of human dignity in their lands and asks, “Why do Islamic nations despise beauty, poetry, music, art and joy?” Salem Alyami laments that history attributes no invention to them. Likewise, Jihad Alawneh observes that the Muslim world has never produced an object useful for humanity, not even a match or a vacuum cleaner, and that petrodollars are now being spent in Asiatic and Western brothels, while in Muslim countries intellectuals are persecuted, as are those who dare to speak out about human rights. Tarek Heggi complains that Islamic culture discredits modernity and all other cultures and immobilizes intellectual and spiritual liberty. Sabah Ibrahim says it is not true, as the head of Al-Azhar University proclaims, that Muslims transmitted civilization and culture to the West, for in fact Muslims never knew progress or civilization and have excelled only in terrorism, genocide, massacre, rape, and the destruction of ancient monuments, including their own antiquities.

Still another theme in these essays is the key role of Al-Azhar University in worldwide terrorism. One hopes that Pope Francis, who has kowtowed to Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, may come to realize this before long. Saleh Hammaya says that when Al-Azhar condemned ISIS for burning a Jordanian pilot in a cage, it was not condemning the savagery. If one reads closely what it said, Al-Azhar condemned the execution as against sharia, which allows executions only by crucifixion, stoning, or flagellation, and not by burning. In short, Al-Azhar only condemned the procedure as not “halal.”

Sayyed Al-Qimni calls Al-Azhar both a “living fossil” and a “terrorist organization.” In the eyes of Al-Azhar, he is a “miscreant” because he rejects fornication with girls of age nine and rejects the right to beat his wife. According to Ali Oueiss, Al-Azhar proclaims that Muslims have transmitted scientific knowledge to the world, when Islam has never favored progress or encouraged individual initiative. Westerners don’t call for the destruction of other nations in the name of their religion, but imams trained at Al-Azhar do. Subhy Mansour, who studied and taught at Al-Azhar, says, “The root of terrorism resides exclusively in texts taught in Al-Azhar,” for that is where terrorism is nurtured and developed. Omar Abdel Rahman, the mentor behind 9/11, graduated from Al-Azhar, as did Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The essays in Islam Laid Bare by Its Own also address how Islam dishonors women, as when the Qur’an compares a wife to a field at man’s service (sura 2:223). Egyptian surgeon Al-Naggar wrote a book on this topic, Islam: Intolerance and Misogyny. Abdelghani Salama notes that a Muslim is not liable for his wife’s hospital bills when he cannot enjoy her sexually. Schools of Islamic law, after all, define marriage as a “contract for the right of fornication.” Hicham Mohammad remarks that the Qur’an, the hadiths, and the commentaries all deprive women of their human dignity. Afifa Louaybi gives us a long list of what she rejects in Islam, including having to be veiled and immured at home to avoid tempting men, being compared to a donkey, having three co-wives and six visits a month from her husband, being beaten and repudiated at will by him, not having her hospital bills or burial paid for, and having to return the dowry her husband paid even after 60 years of marriage. She also rejects the Islamic teaching that women are the majority of those in Hell.

Islam Laid Bare by Its Own is a real eye-opener and needs to be translated into English. There are many more matters discussed in the essays, including the magical Paradise for the sake of which suicide-bombers commit their atrocities. Jihad Alawni and El din Mohssein speak of this Paradise as a supreme brothel (lupanar suprème) full of sexual adventures with little boys and specially made young female virgins, sex-slaves whose hymens are restored after every copulation.

One hopes that these ex-Muslims who rightly defend human rights against a totalitarian ideology realize that if Islam is wrong, atheism is not the answer. Today, under the aegis of the Established Church of Darwinism, we see human rights trampled with impunity from the womb to the verge of death. The only ground for human rights is the belief that man is created in the image of God.


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