Why I Am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq
Few books about religion deserve the attribution “courageous.” This book, I am pleased to report, does. It is courageous because it is (as the term originally denoted) full of heart (coeur) and courageous because it is an act of intellectual honesty and bravery, an act of faith rather than of faithlessness. It will undoubtedly be a controversial book because it deals personally and forthrightly with a subject widely misunderstood by theists and nontheists of various stripes. That subject is the Islamic faith.
New religions depend for their sustenance on the energy of converts. Thus Christianity in the first century of the common era and Islam in the sixth depended on the enthusiasm of the newly persuaded. Each had its prophet, each its network of zealous missionary-evangelists and later organization-minded hierarchs and caliphs to drive and sustain the structures that faith invented. Christianity and Islam (like rabbinic Judaism before them) arose as monotheistic reform movements with strong legalistic and dogmatic tendencies. Both idealized, if only the former idolized, the work, teaching, and revelations of their prophets in the form of sacred scripture. Both proclaimed the true God, the importance of charity toward the dispossessed, the quality of mercy. Yet both were inclined, as circumstances required and need dictated, to propagate their ideals and to enlarge the kingdom of God by force when persuasion failed. The dar-al-Islam and the kingdom of Christ, once called Christendom, were in many respects evolutionary twins for the better part of twelve centuries. The unlikely symbol of this relationship is the fraternal feud over proprietorship of the religious womb of the book religions—the wars known as the Crusades. It is Jacob’s legacy that his progeny would learn to hate each other and fight religious wars in the name of his God
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