Bism Allah, al-Rahman, al-Raheem....
The 1995 book "Why I Am Not A Muslim" by Ibn Warraq
(ISBN 0-87975-984-4) seems to me to illustrate a number of important
issues for today's Muslim. These issues are related not only to
how we understand and respond to those hostile to Islam. Disturbingly,
Warraq's book does validly reflect back to us the severity of
the ummah's current problems in the areas of religious education
and Islamic practice.
In my general experience Muslims are often unskilled when it comes
to responding to anti-Muslim polemic. In general, we only repeat
back-- parrot-like-- what we have read in a few popular books,
or what we have heard some impressive personality say. Many of
us practice our religion only because "this is what our forefathers
taught" and have failed to truly choose Islam in a mature
and thoughtful manner. We understand and practice religion as
do children and adolescents, rather than as adults. Because of
this our skills and level of understanding are often inadequate
to truly understand, and thus respond to, anti-Muslim propaganda.
This is even more the case when we are confronted with valid criticism
Warraq's book is easily one of the more vicious anti-Muslim writings
I've ever read that is of recent publication. This stems from
his strange combination of valid criticism of contemporary Muslim
practice and Muslim attitudes with what seems to be a real ignorance
of what is actually communicated by the Qur'an and sunnah.
Warraq's book is long, detailed, referenced and footnoted, but
with extensive and glaring intellectual flaws. It would take a
book twice as long as his to refute each of his errors. This paper
shall first identify five general flaws that are present in Warraq's
work and are also often seen in other anti-Muslim writing. I shall
then discuss some issues and problems specific to Warraq's book.
Throughout both parts I shall draw attention to areas that appear
to me to be valid criticism.