Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out was not what I had expected it to be. The book itself is a collection of first-person accounts from indivi...moreWhy We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out was not what I had expected it to be. The book itself is a collection of first-person accounts from individuals who, in some capacity or another, were previously involved in the Muslim religious community. I expected a comprehensive, globalised, overview of the atrocities perpetuated by Islam the world over; essentially, a macro-view of Islam's role in world politics, coupled with discussion of individual experiences in the religion and ideology.
There are about twenty individual accounts. Some are written better than others; the introductory five are really the most well-written in the entire book.
It is necessary to contextualize my review, because my personal politics dictate to me how I feel about this book. As a self-identifying atheist, I am comfortable with directly addressing the uglier aspects of religious and theological thought.
This is very much a book where one finds what one is looking for: individuals who are stringently anti-Islamicization are going to find more fodder for their beliefs, while those who belief Muslims are marginalized will find support for that, too.
Upon its release, Why We Left Islam was regarded as extremely controversial, because all of the testimonies brought forth are less than favorable. Most recount sheer barbarism in the name the religion: excessive misogyny, physical abuse, and sheer terror are all consistently perpetuated upon the writers. Each experience in the book is written by separate individuals, yet they maintain the same themes: subjugation of women, tunnel-visioned ignorance, and blind hatred towards the West.
Thoughtfully approaching this book is absolutely imperative. It is an important book to read, because it presents a different viewpoint than is generally propagated in Western media outlets. There is a lot of difficulty, particularly in our 'free' society, in critically exploring faith (Islam, particularly, in light of the 'touchiness' to its links with global terrorism)
Certainly, the threat to Western values of freedom (of speech, thought, belief, religion, conduct (generally), etc,) are clearly endangered by the influx of Islamic values into Western Europe (and to a lesser extent, America). Much like Pim Fortuyn's politics, "tolerating the intolerant" presents a very dangerous situation. How can European and American countries compromise prized values, in an attempt to 'tolerate' a religion that will not rest until the rest of the world is converted, subjugated, or killed? ...There aren't easy answers to the issues that arise in multicultural societies, and the problems are only going to increase in the coming years.
Notably, too, is that WND (WorldNetDaily) books published this collection of essays. WND is known for being a conservative news site, and they have published numerous other books exploring the 'darker' elements of Islam. The book is critical of Islam, but such criticism is not without merit. Clearly the editors of this book are aware how dangerous it is to promote and release such a title. Similarly-written books about Christianity, Judaism, etc, do not face the violent backlash that this book has driven. (less)
The premise is very interesting: a young women decides that her standards for dating are too high (and thusly leading to her overall unhappiness and l...moreThe premise is very interesting: a young women decides that her standards for dating are too high (and thusly leading to her overall unhappiness and lack of love). She decides that, for a year, she will abandon all of her ideals and simply say 'yes' to every man (and woman!) who asks her out.
The problem with the books premise is, of course, a sort-of catch-22. In one sense, The Year of Yes is empowering to read as a single woman: to see another woman throw caution to the wind for love and happiness. In many ways, the book is essentially a celebration of 'singledom,' a way to let loose and disregard social expectations and simply date. However, the book also drives home precisely the message it tries to initially eschew: one can only be happy when 'paired' with another, in the most socially conservative of ways (monogamous, heterosexual, etc, etc).
Of course, the ending is predictable - and the author learns from her experience, grows as a person, finds true love, blah blah blah. By the time I was halfway through, her humor and charm had become stale (I mean really, how many Rilke jokes can you make? How much more can one drum-up their intellectual alienation? ...Puh-leeze), and most of the book read like a circuitous gossip rag. (less)