Leaving Islam




Do We Need Religion? Part 1

Wolfgang Bruno

Ali Sina is the Iranian ex-Muslim behind the website www.faithfreedom.org. Along with other former Muslims such as Ibn Warraq, Sina is spearheading what may be the first organized movement of ex-Muslims in Islamic history, made possible during the past ten to fifteen years by Muslim immigration to the West and the growth of the Internet. Publishing rational criticism of Islam, reaching hundreds of thousands of people and potentially hundreds of millions of people across the world, has never been done before until a few years ago. This is also part of the inspiration for my own suggestion of creating an Online Infidel Library, with dozens of books critical of Islam being made available online. It is no exaggeration to say that if the likes of Ali Sina, Ibn Warraq and Wafa Sultan prevail in the face of the traditional death penalty for leaving Islam, then Islam will never again be the same. Ibn Warraq has estimated that 10- 15% of the Muslims in the UK are actually apostates. If that percentage reflects the Islamic world as a whole, we are talking about a number of people the equivalent of a country the size of Japan. Even half of this is a country the size of Britain. This is the soft underbelly of Islam.

I am fortunate enough to have read Ali Sina’s excellent, upcoming book, which, sadly enough, hasn’t found a publisher yet. I agree with Sina on most important points, especially the fact that Islam probably can’t be reformed and that we are very close to a new world war triggered by Islamic fanaticism. Sina writes a lot about reclaiming the West's morality and what's wrong with the West. This closely mirrors what I am doing in my own book, which so far has the working title: "Reformation Impossible: What’s Wrong With Islam and What’s Wrong With the West?” According to Ali Sina, the West is now a moral relativistic society, where the vacuum created by religion is sorely felt. But at the same time, Sina questions whether a return to religion is the way to go. In an email to me, Sina writes the following: “But is religion the answer? How can we go back to religions when we know they are based on lies? I think our challenge is to find a way to salvage morality and family values without the burden of religion. Maybe I am asking too much. But there must be a way. There must be more choices than either believing in lies or becoming immoral. There must be a middle ground. This point is fundamental to the survival of the western civilization. We must find an answer to it.”

This is where Sina and I part ways. As this is probably one of the most important issues of our age, it could make for an interesting discussion. Can you have morality without religion? I’m not so sure, which is why I will recommend a strengthening of the traditional Judeo-Christian religion of the West. When I first thought of writing my book, I imagined myself concluding it with some short recommendations for how Westerners should deal with Islam and Muslim immigration. The more I have looked into the matter, the more I have discovered that the really interesting issue is not what's wrong with Islam, but what's wrong with the West, which is why I will devote up to one third of the book to answering this question.

Europe has been threatened by Islam several times before, but has managed to withstand it. Why not now? If we want to mount a defense of Western civilization, then we first need to define exactly what Western civilization is. I have found that the West at the beginning of the 21st century is mired in an internal cultural battle, an ideological civil war over the purpose of the West that is sometimes so severe that combined with Muslim immigration it could even trigger physical civil wars in several Western nations in the near future. One of the contenders is what I will label the ideology of Egalitarianism, of which Multiculturalism is the most prominent component. If you analyze the ideology of Egalitarianism, is has Marxist roots in ideas about forced equality. Basically, it says that all cultures are more or less equal, and that there is nothing particular about Western civilization that makes it worth preserving. It may even be worse than all other cultures. To display attachment to your own culture is considered racism and frowned upon. As is to be expected with its Marxist roots, it has its stronghold of support in the political Left. However, what makes Egalitarianism and Multiculturalism particularly dangerous is that its support transcends that of the traditional Left and has penetrated deep into the traditional Right, too. As long as large parts of our elites adhere to the notion that all cultures are equal, it will be impossible to mount any defense of the West. Which means that Multiculturalism and Egalitarianism need to be discredited if Europe is to have any chance of surviving.

In defining what Western civilization means, we will sooner or later face the question of how closely it is tied to the religion of Christianity. I would define myself as a Christian Atheist, the way Oriana Fallaci does. I am not personally religious, but I have gradually grown more positive towards Christianity, especially after I started studying Islam. I now think that defining Western civilization without its Judeo-Christian religious component simply doesn't make sense from a historical or philosophical point of view. I thus disagree with people such as atheist Richard Dawkins, in viewing religion as all bad. We also have to ask what will replace the traditional religions if we remove them. I have been puzzled by the seemingly cozy relationship between European Socialists, who in theory should be anti-religious, and Muslims. I have found that this can be explained if you postulate that the difference between religious and political ideologies is not always clear-cut, but should be more accurately described as a gliding scale. The defining difference is not the belief in God, but the belief in the rights of the individual vs. the rights of the collective group. As Ibn Warraq puts it: The fight is not between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between those who value freedom and those who do not.

Socialists frequently mock Christians for basing their worldview in belief in something that cannot be proven and has never been seen. But since Marxism cannot be proven and no successful Marxist society has ever been seen, don't Socialists also base their worldview on belief in something that cannot be proven and has never been seen? And don't they follow their ideology with religious fervour and denounce their critics as evil? German sociologist Max Weber has stated that the modern, capitalist economy in Europe was based upon the Protestant work ethic. If capitalism is based upon Christianity, doesn't it become logical for anti-capitalists to undermine capitalism by attacking its religious base? Is Socialism a religion disguised as a political ideology, and is Islam a political ideology disguised as a religion?

Maybe we should abandon the common distinction between religious and non-religious ideologies. I will postulate that it is sometimes more useful to think of them as religions with God and religions without God, Marxism being a religion without God. Philosopher Eric Hoffer has written a book called “The True Believer, ” where he tracks mass movements throughout history. He includes some critical words about Christianity, but perhaps the most striking feature of his book is that he shows how religious and seemingly non-religious movement share many traits, and may sometimes be interchangeable: “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” I have myself heard Leftist Multiculturalists describe themselves as “the forces of Light,” “the forces of Darkness” being all those evil racists who oppose Muslim immigration. This is in fact a deeply religious world view, which could have been shared by members of the Spanish Inquisition. “We are the forces of Good. Those who disagree with us are not just wrong, but Evil, and we have a perfect moral right, even duty, to suppress their views by any means necessary.”



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