For the past few days, I’ve been finding that Reddit’s Ex-Muslim community is an excellent resource, especially when you want to complain about your family’s compliance with Ramadan. One of its users recently asked why atheists weren’t attacking Islam as much as she felt they ought to.
At first, I wondered why she wasn’t calling for fellow ex-Muslims ourselves to do something. Then, I remembered that many of us are “closeted:” living dual lives in fear of the repercussions of being an open apostate of Islam. Inspired by the fact that I’m lucky enough to be uncloseted and yet still alive and well, I conceived of a project that would educate fellow atheists and skeptics about Islam.
My cause was vindicated when atheists lacking a Muslim background did start attacking Islam: I’d rather their criticisms make sense and hit close enough to home that Muslims might take pause instead of being so off the mark that Muslims could immediately brush them off as only partially-informed at best and Fox News-inspired at worst.
With that in mind, I present A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam.
Ever since I started my Islam 101 posts here, readers have been asking me for a good source of (relatively) unbiased information on Islam. Indeed, since I began participating in the atheist and skeptical communities, people who find out that I come from a Muslim background are eager to ask me about Islam and want to know where they can learn more. I’ve been at a loss as to what I should recommend to them because, to be honest, one that fits my criteria for “good” doesn’t exist.
There are plenty of positive books about Islam by Muslims. There are many positive books on Islam by non-Muslims. There are more negative books on Islam by non-Muslims than you’d think there were. There are several books on Islam by ex-Muslims that are personal stories, written with the intention of debunking/exposing, and/or approached from a very academic perspective. There are a handful of critical books on Islam by progressive Muslims.
I intend to bridge the last two categories with my own point of view: I was an American Muslim born-and-raised believer until I left the religion for philosophical, rather than political, reasons. The book is not intended to particularly attack Islam, per se, but neither is it going to sugar-coat or ignore important issues related to Islam.
To all of you who have been writing in asking for a good source of moderately unbiased information on Islam, this is my answer: I’m going to have to write it. I’m going to release the outline/topics covered for the Guide soon, so if there’s something that you want me to cover, that will be your chance to ensure that it makes the cut.