Here are some assessments of Islam I recently came across:
• “totalitarian,” “barbaric”
• “fascist ideology”
• “obsessional dream of conquering the world”
• “supreme brothel” (in reference to the Islamic description of paradise)
Christian fundamentalists? Militant counter-jihadists? White supremacist Islamophobes? What’s your guess?
Actually, these statements are taken from a book of essays by former Muslims. L’Islam mis à nu par les siens: Anthologie d’auteurs arabophones post 2001 is edited by Maurice Saliba with a preface by Fr. Henri Boulad, an Egyptian Jesuit. Anne Barbeau Gardiner, who reviewed the book for the New Oxford Review says the title can be translated as Islam Laid Bare by Its Own. Professor Gardiner notes that “a number of the authors were members of the Muslim Brotherhood or were graduates of, and even teachers at, Al-Azhar University in Egypt.”
The 46 essays in the book present a picture of Islam that’s difficult to find elsewhere. Much of the online information about Islam is provided by Muslim apologists—some of whom belong to groups that are well funded by Arab states. And much of the rest is provided by non-Muslims whose first priority is not to offend Islam. Critics of Islam, on the other hand, are few and far between, and possibly getting fewer. Their sites are regularly attacked as “hate groups” by leftists. And they stand in constant danger of being de-monetized or de-platformed.
Catholics are especially likely to be exposed to the airbrushed version of Islam. Almost the whole effort of Catholic clergy and educators who deal with the subject is to find common ground between the two faiths. In recent years, some Catholic leaders have appeared to be far more worried about the dangers of “Islamophobia” than about the relentless persecution of fellow Christians by Muslims in various parts of the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
At the same time, Catholic leaders have shown little concern over the importation into Europe of the very same ideology that was being used to justify the persecution of Christians in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and numerous other countries. In fact, some of the loudest voices in favor of mass migration into Europe were those of Catholic clergy. And very few spoke out against it.
One who did was Emil Nona, the exiled Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul. Archbishop Nona warned his fellow bishops in Europe about the dangers of “welcoming in your countries an ever-growing number of Muslims.” “Islam does not say that all men are equal,” he reminded them: “Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”
While many of the European bishops saw Islam as a fellow religion, Archbishop Nona saw it as an enemy ideology—much as the West looked upon Soviet communism as an enemy ideology during the Cold War. Just as Cold-warriors warned that communist ideology was incompatible with democratic values, today’s critics of Islam warn that it also is incompatible with fundamental human rights. For example, one prominent feature of Islamic doctrine is a strident anti-Semitism. Anyone with a thorough knowledge of Islam would understand that the importation of a large number of Muslims into a country would lead to a corresponding increase in anti-Semitism.
Not only did Europe’s bien pensants fail to see this coming, they convinced themselves that Muslim migration would lead to increased tolerance all around. Muslims, they believed, would assimilate to the spirit of Western democracy while Europeans would benefit from the rich diversity of the Muslim world.
Indeed, European leaders, including European bishops, saw the migration as a golden opportunity to amend for the Holocaust. Amazingly, they designated Muslims as the “new Jews”—as the world’s pre-eminent victims of hatred, discrimination, and oppression. By showering Muslims—the “new Jews”—with tolerance, they could atone for their treatment of the real Jews during the Nazi era, while at the same time defusing Muslim suspicions and resentments.
It had to have been one of stupidest ideas ever conceived. To make amends for their past anti-Semitism, the European elites invited into their countries, large numbers of people who adhered to the most anti-Semitic ideology in history.
Indeed, there is far more anti-Semitic content in the Koran than in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In her testimony at the 2010 trial of Geert Wilders, Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-born American psychiatrist, testified:
The Quran is worse than Mein Kampf, because Mein Kampf is a political book, the Quran is a mix of politics and religion. In my opinion, it is easier to overcome a political ideology than a political ideology that is packaged as a religious ideology.
Just so. And this religious packaging helps to explain why so many Catholic prelates are unable to understand that “your values are not their values.” To get a better idea of what “their values” really are, Catholics would do well to read Islam Laid Bare by Its Own (hopefully, we will soon have an English translation).
In his introduction to this revelatory book of essays, Fr. Boulad finds it “scandalous” that for 60 years, Catholic prelates have skirted the issues raised by these former Muslims. It might be an exaggeration to speak about a romance with Islam, but Islam has found a good friend in today’s Church leadership. Church leaders have shown an almost total reluctance to say anything critical about Islam—even when such criticism has been fully justified.
The situation is similar to the fellow-feelings that many Americans had for Soviet communism before, during, and after World War II. Some historians do indeed speak of a “romance” with communism during this period. For example, Hollywood sent several love letters to Russia in the form of pro-Soviet propaganda films such as Mission to Moscow. In Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s, Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley writes, “not a single Hollywood film has ever shown communists committing atrocities.”
One of the main ways that Americans became acquainted with the truth about communism was through the writings of ex-communists, such as Arthur Koestler, Whittaker Chambers, and Ignacio Silone. “When all is said,” Koestler told a friend, “we ex-communists are the only people on your side who know what it’s all about.”
The same is true of ex-Muslims. Unlike clerical and governmental apologists for Islam who take at face value whatever Muslim authorities tell them, they know from experience “what it’s all about.” It’s about time we paid more attention to them. And the good news is that you don’t have to wait for the English translation of L’Islam mis à nu par les siens.
The fact is, there are already a number of excellent books in English by ex-Muslims. Here, in no particular order, are six of them:
- Nonie Darwish, Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values
- Wafa Sultan, A God Who Hates
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel
- Derya Little, From Islam to Christ: One Woman’s Path through the Riddles of God
- Joseph Fadelle, The Price to Pay: A Muslim Risks All to Follow Christ
- Ibn Warraq, Why I am not a Muslim
- Ali Sina, Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography
These books help to fill in the many gaps left by those authors who would like us to believe that Islam is just a slightly exotic form of Christianity. The first five on the list are a synthesis of analysis and autobiography. They contain a number of striking and instructive anecdotes which reveal the everyday consequences of living in an Islamic society—consequences that Islamic apologists would prefer you didn’t know about. Is Islam a “religion of peace” or does it have an “obsessional dream of conquering the world”? It’s a question we can’t afford to put off indefinitely.
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