Leaving Islam and showing others the way out.
Rizvi was raised and educated in such thoroughly Muslim nations as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan before making his home in Canada. Despite a religious upbringing, the author grew skeptical of the tenets of Islam at an early age and eventually opted for atheism. In a multifaceted work, Rizvi attempts to convince others that a rational view of Islam as a culture without need for a religion will allow it to join the modern world. The author begins by discussing the violence, inequality, and lack of freedom he witnessed in the Muslim world, and he reminds his readers that these aspects of Islamic society are not simply cultural outcroppings, but are tied directly to the Muslim religion. “The Abrahamic religions, he writes, “are inherently political” and, as such, will always spill outside of the framework of faith and into public life. Rizvi is especially distressed by Western liberals who defend the most questionable aspects of Islam because they see it as a minority religion in danger of subjugation. In so doing, they unwittingly bolster hard-line Islamists elsewhere who trample on the rights of their own people. “In Pakistan,” he notes, “there are blasphemy laws to force us into silence. Here, there are accusations of Islamophobia to shame us into it.” The author’s own route away from the excesses of his religion was to leave it entirely. He found in atheism an intellectually satisfying answer, and he goes to great lengths to defend it. However, realizing that there are indeed cultural aspects of any religion worth preserving, he points Muslims toward a rational, modernist view of their faith. Pointing out that many Jews and Christians retain their cultural heritage without a belief in God, he urges Muslims to secularize their culture and leave behind the theistic aspects of Islam, which, he believes, have been a grave source of evil for centuries.
Rare and intriguing arguments in the debate over Islam.