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.
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It is currently being spouted through all forms of media — impossible to ignore — you will hear claims over and over again by many radical Imams, Muslim scholars, and preachers that Islam is a religion of inclusiveness, that anyone can become a Muslim just by muttering a few words. It seems quite simple, right?
This is not new. I grew up hearing all these claims in Iran, under Islamic laws. To uninformed ears, this can sound almost magical. What is important, however, are the many more significant requirements the imams conveniently leave out. Above all, once you become a Muslim, there is no way to turn back. Your faith is under the control of the extremist imams, sheikhs, governments, or simply the community. You cannot just decide to abandon Islam and go back to how you were living. The penalty of attempting this is death.
Additionally, those imams and sheikhs who will have you believe how easy it is to join Islam, claim that Islam accepts Christianity and Judaism (“people of the book”), and that there is absolutely no difference between the Abrahamic religions. Sounds nice to most ears. But it is absolutely false. Let us take a quick look at some people who left Islam for other “Abrahamic” religions, particularly Christianity.
Maryam Naghash Zargaran, a 38 year-old Christian convert from Islam, is currently facing serious health issues in one of the world’s most vicious jails; Evin prison in Tehran.
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The Muslim Brotherhood classifies as one of their great intellectual leaders Imam Mohammed al-Ghazali (1917-1996). He famously decreed that the assassination of the Egyptian Muslim thinker, Farag Foda, was acceptable. In the views of al-Ghazali, Farag Foda was an apostate for defending secular values and human rights. Moreover, al-Ghazali went into an Egyptian court and defended the assassins: “Anyone who openly resisted the full imposition of Islamic law,” he said, “was an apostate who should be killed either by the government or by devout individuals.” He added: “There is no penalty in Islam to kill the apostate by yourself when the government fails to do so.”
In public libraries across Canada (and elsewhere), the books of Imam al-Ghazali are available, along with others that incite hatred, violence and terror, by authors such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Imam Nawawi. There is not a single Arabic language book in a library that I have visited in Ottawa that attacks or criticizes terrorism and violence and hatred.
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If there is one question that most concerns the public around the question of radical Islam it is “What is the connection between the extremists and the moderates?” Leading politicians across the Western world have not been much help in answering this question, insisting as they do, that radical Islam has nothing to do with Islam and that the extremists are as far away from the moderates as it is possible to be. Yet the public senses that this is not the case.
Despite the amazing lack of public debate about the actual contours of the discussion, the public knows that something is not right about the analysis provided by Liberal politicians and others. Indeed, the public notices not only that there is some connection between the two (something Democrats in the U.S., among others, deny) but that the connection may be closer than anyone would like. A fine example of this was thrown up in the UK this week in the space of just 24 hours.
On Friday the London Evening Standard carried a story about the police launching a possible “hate crime” investigation into literature that the paper had discovered being handed out at a London mosque. The potential “hate crime” was not even the best known variety — a mean Tweet or a nasty comment — but the sort of thing we used to call “incitement.” The literature being handed out at a mosque in Walthamstow consisted of a booklet which insisted that “any Muslim should kill” anyone who insults the Prophet of Islam. Those who insult the main man “must be killed,” it repeated.
The pamphlet backed up this point of view with reference to classical Islamic law and explained that in the case of those who “insult” Mohammed, such as apostates who “deserve to be assassinated,” it was not necessary to wait for any court or court judgement to rule. Better just to get on with it on your own, was the gist.
In a case that is becoming increasingly familiar to indigenous British people as much as it is to British Pakistanis, the booklet referred to the seminal case of Mumtaz Qadri, the Pakistani man who in 2011 murdered Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Qadri murdered Taseer because of the latter’s support for the reform of Pakistan’s strict Islamic blasphemy laws. The booklet explains that “all Muslims should support” the assassin Qadri and that even being what the publication calls “a big shot” like Taseer should not protect someone from being killed by any Muslim who feels like it.
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A SHARIA court has sentenced three Christians to 80 lashes each after finding them guilty of blasphemy for drinking holy communion wine.
Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammed Reza Omidi will be flogged in public after being arrested at a house church gathering in Rasht, Iran, earlier this year.
The trio spent weeks in prison before finally being released on bail, but will now be subjected to the cruel and degrading punishment after being found guilty by Islamist judges.
Security agents also raided the home of their pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife Fatemeh Pasandideh and arrested them at the same time, but they were not detained.
Iranian authorities later charged converts Mosibzadeh, Fadayee and Omidi for consuming alcohol during a communion service.
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No one should be surprised that this kind of thing is happening in Britain. It’s going to happen a great deal more, too, because the death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law. It’s based on the Qur’an: “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.” (Qur’an 4:89)
A hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57). The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
This is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, both Sunni and Shi’ite. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated: “The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-‘ashriyyah, Al-Ja’fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.”
Qaradawi also once famously said: “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today.”
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