I’m Not Waiting for Any Other Atheists

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.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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  1. Can’t wait to get away from my work-screened computer to hit the link, Haina! And THANK YOU! This is exactly what I have been wanting to find. Good luck.

  2. “why atheists weren’t attacking Islam as much as she felt they ought to.” christopher hitchens attacked Islam plenty. I found it pretty offensive actually. It seemed racist?? (I’m an atheist, formerly a catholic)

    1. I go back and forth on this one. Hitchens was relatively nuanced about it in his way, but others aren’t so much at all.

      1. Sam Harris attacks Islam pretty much all day and night too. I don’t think Islam is necessarily lacking criticism… just lacking criticism from people who have lived it.

  3. It sounds like an interesting idea. I too started writing a book when I couldn’t find one to read on the subject. I am concerned about your safety, though. You’ve become a very public apostate.

  4. I am REALLY looking forward to this. If I know anything about Muslims, it’s about German Muslims, so I’d love to see it from your perspective.

  5. Heina,

    I’m very interested in this. I’d like to read it when you’re done.

  6. I love the culture of many of the Islamic countries and i’m supportive of any non-Hitchens like atheists view of Islam.

    I think that if the extreme majority of westerners would stop being westernheads (like metalheads) public opinion about the people that live in Islamic countries would be very different, it would be a lot less negative and a lot more understanding.

    Anyway, i wish you the best on your endeavour.

  7. Can’t wait to get it and glad its being funded so enthusiastically. On the topic of cool people who write about being “ex Muslim” can I recommend also The Young Atheist’s Handbook by Alom Shaha (Londoner, Bangladeshi Muslim background). Not sure if its officially released in the USA yet but well worth finding.

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