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Virgins? What Virgins?: and Other Essays Paperback – 15 Jul 2010


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About the Author

Ibn Warraq is the highly acclaimed author of numerous books, including Why I Am Not a Muslim and Defending the West (both available from Prometheus).

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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Buy it. You'll like it. 18 Oct 2010
By Ronald E. Parsons - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought <Virgins? What Virgins?> on the strength of one of Warraq's previous books, <Why I Am Not A Muslim>, which I consider to be one of the most informative of the many books about Islam currently circulating. <Virgins>, which is a collection of Warraq's essays and articles previously published elsewhere, did not disappoint. (I had not previously seen any of them).

Warraq (a pseudonym) was born and reared Muslim in India/Pakistan and was sent off at an early age to the UK for education. While there he began to question the faith (or politico-religions system) he was brought up in. Eventually he turned away from it.

Warraq is a very bright fellow who writes masterfully in English. His writing flows like a beautiful, clear brook. If you begin your inquiries into Islam with Warraq's two books above-mentioned, you will be ahead of the pack in your quest for such knowledge, and pleasantly so -- unless you are a committed follower of the Prophet. In that case you might start out as seeing Islam insulted. But if you pay close attention and keep an open mind, you could attain a level of clear thinking approaching that of Warraq.

I am glad that I stumbled upon Warraq's writings. They are among the best. From them I learned much. I keep them as reference works.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
What the qu-ran really says and preaches 3 Feb 2011
By Lorna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ibn Warraq is without a doubt the most authoritative scholar and historian of Islam and Muslim society. Born as a Pakistani Muslim, he has distinguished himself in his honest, comprehensive and intellectually disciplined books as well as his insightful critiques and dissection of dissemblers like the late Edward Said. Like other disaffected Muslims who also live under pseudonyms in adopted countries, Warraq eschews ideology as indeed any serious credible critic and public intellectual must do to solidify his or her reputation and credentials. Along with his critique of Said in "Defending the West", this book should form part of the base of anyone's library or research on Islam and the Muslim mind. In a time of mindless extremism that puts ideology before truth, Warraq's books stand out as antidotes to intellectual dishonesty and mendacity.
52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Islam Critique 2010 27 Aug 2010
By William Garrison Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Virgins? What Virgins? and Other Essays" by Ibn Warraq, (April 2010), Prometheus Books, 544 pgs , English. This `anthology' is a collection of 18 of his "previously published works in newspaper and print and Web-based journals" - even for us long-time Ibn Warraq readers these reprints are suitable `collectables' still worthy of perusing. Chapter topics are: (1) On becoming English (growing up as a Muslim in Karachi c. 1950); (2) Apologia Pro Vita Sua; (3) Some aspects of the history of Koranic Criticism; (4) Introduction to "What the Koran Really Says"; (5) The importance of variants: Introduction to "Which Koran?"; (6) Virgins? What Virgins? (a 2002 article regarding the Houri); (7) Islam, the Middle East, and Fascism; (8) Apologists of Totalitarianism: From Communism to Islam; (9) Apostasy, human rights, religion, and belief; (10) Islam on Trial: Reasons for leaving Islam; (11) Reason, not revelation; (12) Honest intellectuals must shed their spiritual turbans: Islam--The Final Taboo; (13) Brother Tariq and the Muslim Hoods; (14) Rock, humanitarian causes, political commitment, and Islam; (15) The Regent's Canal and the trail to the British Raj, Parsis, and Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Readymoney; (16) Why the West is Best: My response to Tariq Ramadan; (17) Democracy in a cartoon (re Danish Muhammad cartoons); (18) Allawi and the `Crises of Islamic Civilization' (book review). There is an extensive, detailed 33-page-long index of topics from all articles. Ibn Warraq is of the Muslim Murtadd sect.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Ibn Warraq moves from strength to strength 29 July 2011
By Geoff Puterbaugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Ibn Warraq" has been one of my favorite authors ever since the publication of his groundbreaking "Why I am not a Muslim" --- especially with his hilarious chapter "Wine, Pigs, and Homosexuality" which spelled out for the world what Muslims really think about these "taboo" things. To summarize, Muslims from Tangier to Teheran blithely ignore the supposed taboos on wine and homosexuality, but they actually take the prohibition against pork seriously.

I could only nod my head as I read this chapter, because I have spent years living in Tunisia and Iran. In Tunisia, while I was there, the country was almost completely Francophone, so of course the sidewalk cafes sold beer, wine, and other liquors openly. Gay cruising in the evenings was simply a fact of life, with the young men wearing sprigs of jasmine behind their ears. In Iran, getting blind drunk on vodka was a weekend ritual (not to mention toking up on opium), and the gay cruising scene was just as intense.

However, both countries got very serious about pork! Go figure!

The new book contains startling information about the origins of the Koran, especially in the idea that much of the Koran may simply have been imported from Syriac-speaking Christianity. (See Luxenberg's The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran for the details. And note that "Luxenberg" is a pen-name, designed to preserve the author's life. All of this jibes rather well with the Iranian rumor that Muhammad spent the first forty years of his life as a Nestorian monk.)

Another ground-breaking book to consult is The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died

In any case, genuine research into the real origins of the Koran has just begun, and I guess it is not necessary to say that absolutely none of this research is being done in Muslim countries.

The title essay, by the way, puts an enormous question-mark under the idea that Islamic martyrs are going to have a wild time with 72 virgins. The word "virgins" has probably been mis-translated by generations of ignorant mullahs, and actually refers to "grapes" or "raisins."

An invaluable contribution by one of our literary heroes.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A 'must' for any collection seeking to understand Muslim beliefs and purpose 14 Nov 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Virgins? What Virgins? And Other Essays offers a fine gathering of witty, pointed writings gathering Warraq's best works on the Koran and problems inherent in interactions between East and West. From an introductory personal autobiographical piece charting his England upbringing to articles considering political Islam and its promises and threats, this is a 'must' for any collection seeking to understand Muslim beliefs and purpose.
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