The author stands behind his book
In the New York Review of Books, Max Rodenbeck reviews Ibn Warraq’s seminal Leaving Islam.
Which brings us full circle to an even rarer new species of Muslim, those who have abandoned the faith altogether. Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out is probably the first book of its kind””a compendium of testimonies from former Muslims about the reasons for their estrangement from the Islamic faith itself. This is, obviously, a dangerous venture. The agreed penalty for apostasy in sharia is death. Not surprisingly, the editor of this volume uses a pseudonym, and most of the contents were sent long-distance to the Internet site he runs, www.secularislam.org.
The personal stories recounted in Leaving Islam range from the tragic to the trite. More useful are sections that trace the long and illustrious history of Muslim doubt, including this verse by the tenth-century Syrian poet Abul ‘Ala al Ma’arri:
We mortals are composed of two great schools
Enlightened knaves or else religious fools.
The question is not whether Islam is to be reformed. The question is which of these schools will do the job.
It was good of Rodenbeck to note that the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death. That “long and illustrious history of Muslim doubt” has always had lethal consequences if the wrong people took notice. Ibn Warraq puts his life on the line daily to stand for the eradication of this outrage against human dignity and religious freedom. He is one of the heroes of our age.