Standing up to political correctness and facing death threats, the Muslim apostate writers Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have honored our increasingly endangered Western heritage of free thought, which includes the right—indeed, the obligation—to subject religious dogma to criticism and reason. In a series of provocative books and personal testimonies over two decades, they have educated us about the historical and religious roots of the Islamist onslaught against democratic institutions.
In his 1995 book Why I Am Not a Muslim (modeled after Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian), Ibn Warraq reported that, as a young man thinking about abandoning his religious upbringing, he was inspired by the philosophical defenses of free speech of John Stuart Mill and Friedrich A. Hayek. Those mainstays of Western thought led Ibn Warraq eventually to take “an uncompromising and critical look at almost all the fundamental tenets of Islam.”
In a similar way, in her 2015 book Heretic, Ayaan Hirsi Ali recalls how she came to realize the price that she would have to pay for exercising her free-speech rights: “From the moment I first began to argue that there was an unavoidable connection between the religion I was raised in and the violence of organizations such as al-Qaida and the self-styled Islamic State . . . I have been subjected to a sustained effort to silence my voice.” In 2004, Theo van Gogh, Hirsi Ali’s collaborator on a Dutch film about Islam’s oppression of women, was stabbed to death on a street in Amsterdam, where she was then living. The Islamist killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, left a note warning that Hirsi Ali was next. She now travels with bodyguards, while Ibn Warraq writes under a pseudonym—prudent precautions, since apostasy remains a capital crime in 13 Muslim-majority nations, including Somalia and Pakistan, the native countries of the two writers.
Outrageously, Ibn Warraq and Hirsi Ali have found no sanctuary in America’s centers of higher learning, where they regularly find themselves denounced as “Islamophobes.” But they have shrugged off the calumnies and continued to think about the most serious threat facing the Western democracies since the end of the Cold War. Their two recent works, Ibn Warraq’s The Islam in Islamic Terrorism: The Importance of Beliefs, Ideas, and Ideology and Hirsi Ali’s The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It, encourage readers to reflect on the striking parallels between the ideological challenges that America and its allies confronted during the long struggle against international Communism and the current battle against jihadist terrorism.
Source: for MORE