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Fighting Against Fear and Slavery

March 10, 2011

We who are privileged to live in the Free World are blessed to hear the opinions of former Muslims such as Ibn Warraq.  Dissenting voices such as his are not allowed to speak openly in the Muslim world. I well recall the response by National Public Radio (NPR) to criticism that a program that aired opinions on Israeli-Palestinian relations featured Israelis who objected to their own government’s policies, but did not feature Palestinians who objected to their leaders’ policies. “We tried,” NPR replied, “but we could not find any Palestinians who felt safe in making critical remarks in public.” After living for seven years in the Muslim world, I can understand the power that fear has on people. So, here is Ibn Warraq, a Pakistani who now lives in England, speaking for himself:

The treatment of women, non-Muslims unbelievers, heretics, and slaves (male and female) was appalling both in theory and in practice. In other words, Islam in theory and in practice stands condemned. The horrendous behavior towards women, non-Muslims, heretics, and slaves was a direct consequence of the principles laid down in the Koran and developed by Islamic jurists. Islamic law is a totalitarian theoretical construct, intended to control every aspect of an individual’s life from birth to death. Happily, the law has not always been applied to the letter—Islamic civilization would scarcely have emerged otherwise.[1]

Persons who make such frank remarks had best live in the Christian world, or, if in the Muslim world, had best plan their escape, as the Jew Ibn Kammuna discovered when, in 1280 AD, he published An Examination of the Three Faiths in Baghdad.

Islam Often Swings the Hammer on Dissent

Islam's history includes the violent crushing of dissenting opinions in both high and low profile cases.

Of the prophet Mohammad, the author dared to write, “We will not concede that he [Mohammad] added to the knowledge of God and to obedience to Him anything more than was found in the earlier religions.” People generally convert to Islam, he continued, “in terror or in quest of power, or to avoid heavy taxation, or to escape humiliation, or because of infatuation with a Muslim woman.” How did the Muslims react to this skepticism? A 13th century historian, named Fuwati, tells us what happened:

The infuriated mob rioted and massed to attack his house and to kill him. They sought Ibn Kammuna but he was in hiding. The amir stepped out to calm the crowed but these showered abuse upon him and accused him of being on the side of Ibn Kammmuna. Then, upon the amir’s orders, it was heralded in Baghdad that, early on the following morning, Ibn Kammuna would be burned. The mob thus subsided.

As for Ibn Kammuna, he was hidden in a box and carried out of the city, to Hilla, where his son served as an official. Here he stayed for a time until he died.

Ibn Warraq, writing in 1995, comments, “Fuwati’s narrative exemplifies how throughout the history of Islam ordinary Muslims, and not just so-called fundamentalists, have reacted to putative insults to their religion.”[2]

That’s a world of fear and slavery. By contrast, the work of the gospel, Jesus said, is “to know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Given that a Free World has come into existence, we must ask whether the Free World emerged because communities of Christians began believing in Jesus Christ and, “obeying all that He commanded.” In a future series of entries I hope to make the case that this is in fact the case.

[1] Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1995).

[2] Ibid. 4

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