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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, learned, interesting, surprisingly calm and objective, 19 July 2010
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This review is from: Why I Am Not a Muslim (Paperback)
Brave, learned, interesting, surprisingly calm and objective and wide ranging book, if more intellectual than populist.

To develop only a few points amongst many in this book:

Some Muslim countries ban The Muppet Show, Winnie the Pooh and Orwell's Animal Farm because they contain fictional characters who are pigs, an unclean animal in Islam.

The author differentiates (as western commentators often fail to do) between on the one hand the religion itself and on the other hand the achievements of "Islamic" Art, Architecture, Calligraphy and (in former centuries) Science and Philosophy. These cultural achievements were not necessarily the result of Islam or to its credit. They developed after Mohammed's day and we do not know if he would have approved of them. They may owe as much to the heritage of the previous civilizations conquered by the Arabs as to Islam itself. Many of the leading "Muslim" poets, scientists and philosophers of the period were open or suspected heretics, unbelievers or Arabic speaking Christians living a sometimes only precariously tolerated existance within Muslim societies.

Although some would have us believe that Wahhabisim, the austere and intolerant form of Islam that forcibly conquered what is now Saudi Arabia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and and still dominates Saudi society, is an extreme aberration, compared to the milder forms of Islam such as Ismailis and Sufis, I am left believing that the opposite is the case. Mohammed himself and his armed followers in Medina had much more in common with the Saudi Wahhabis.

Yes, more desirable things such as charity and desire for peace have always had their place in Islam, and no, most Muslims do not go around planting bombs or beheading people. However, anyone who wants to characterise Islam as the "religion of peace" must confront the contrast that for example neither Jesus nor Buddha, the founders of two other major religions, ever enslaved anyone, they never ordered a massacre or an execution and never approved the assassination of a woman because of a poem she composed. Even according to Muslim tradition, Mohammed did all those things.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Aug 2011 11:36:39 BDT
Have you read the old testament? It's filled with tons of evil stuff, such as when Moses gets annoyed when his soldiers don't kill every living person in a city and spare the women and boys (he lets his soldiers take virgin girls for breeding). When Jesus is saying "Love thy neighbour", he's talking about fellow Jews, it was only Paul who introduced Christianity to the heathens. Even Buddhism has it's moral, not to mention logical, downfalls. The truth is religion, not just Islam, is a horrible thing.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Sep 2011 19:18:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Apr 2013 19:29:02 BDT

I have expressed my personal reservations Christianity and other religions when reviewing books elsewhere on Amazon about Christianity and atheism. However, Ibn Warraq's book is about Islam, so that is what my above review is about.

In addition to your examples, if you want to expose their least attractive aspects, in the Old Testament the book of Leviticus approves stoning to death as the penalty for gathering wood on a Saturday, and the New Testament says that most people will be damned.

I would say (as a sceptic about religion) there are both good and bad things in most religions, including Islam and Christianity, but that is not to say that they are of exactly equal merit. I stand by the last paragraph of my review.

A French academic called Robert Redeker wrote:

"Of course the Catholic church is not above reproach. Its history is strewn with dark pages, for which it has officially repented. The Inquisition, the hounding of witches, the execution of the philosophers Giordano Bruno and Vanini ...[other examples]... do not plead in the church's favor. But what differentiates Christianity from Islam is obvious: it is always possible to go back to true evangelical values, the peaceful character of Jesus as opposed to the deviations of the Church.

None of the faults of the Church have their roots in the Gospel. Jesus is non-violent. Going back to Jesus is akin to forswearing the excesses of the Church. Going back to Mahomet, to the contrary..."

At time of writing, an internet search on Robert Redeker will confirm that he is in hiding for his life for having written the article in which the above words appear.
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