Apostasy – it’s not just for Christians anymore

May 30, 2007 at 9:00 am 13 comments

salahudin Reader salahudin has replied to my Harmonization by Omission article with some fascinating perspectives on apostasy. Apparently, there is a small but growing movement among Muslims who seriously question their own faith. As an apostate Muslim from Pakistan, salahudin shares the perspectives of a skeptical freethinker that is a real eye-opener for me. Salahudin is a member and contributor of the blogsite towelianism, which is much like our own agnosticatheism site, but geared toward Islam. Check them out here:


Note how similar the objections to Islam are to the objections to Christianity. Also note how dissimilar it is.

On a similar, but unrelated note, I assume that most of us have heard of David Plotz’s series on Slate.com called ‘Blogging the Bible‘. Next week, Robert Spencer of jihadwatch.org will start his own series called ‘Blogging the Qur’an‘. Spencer invites us to read along with him, and I will be doing this. As an apostate Christian, I still enjoy reading the Bible, and would like to try reading the Qur’an. I have never read the Qur’an, and this is my golden opportunity to do so with some Reading the Koranhelpful annotation along the way. It will be fun for me on an academic level, but also important as Islam is the 2nd largest religion in the world, and most of today’s geopolitical events are in some way influenced by it. If I have anything intelligent to say, I might even blog my own thoughts on it here as the weeks go by.

Here is Robert Spencer’s introduction to the project:

To understand the motives and goals of Islamic jihad terrorists, one good place to start might be to explore what they themselves say about why they’re doing what they’re doing, and what they want. That in turn will lead you to the Qur’an (or Koran), the Islamic holy book. The jihadists quote it frequently and portray themselves as those who are following “pure Islam,” the genuine article as it is taught in the Qur’an and Islamic tradition. So in the course of my work explaining the jihadists’ objectives, I’ve quoted the Qur’an a great deal – and hardly a day goes by without my being accused of “cherry-picking” violent passages, and quoting them “out of context.” Meanwhile, the Council on American Islamic Relations and other Muslim groups say that in order to understand the true, peaceful Islam, we should read the Qur’an.

So over the course of the next few months, I’m going to read it, and discuss it in a series of columns. All of it. Not “cherry-picked” or “out of context.” The whole thing, beginning to end. Some of you may be familiar with David Plotz’s series on Slate, “Blogging the Bible.” This series will be similar to that one, but rather than just write about what I think or feel about a certain passage, I will, unlike Plotz, refer to commentaries – all Muslim ones – on the Qur’an. I’ll try to explain how mainstream Muslims who study the Qur’an will understand any given passage, and what its import might be for non-Muslims.

I hope others here besides myself will find this interesting and maybe even fun.


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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. agnosticatheist  |  May 30, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Thanks for giving towelianism a plug here on aA. I regularly read their blog and find it very interesting.

    Someone should do a blog on the Qur’an similar to http://literalbible.blogspot.com


  • 2. salahudin  |  May 30, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    hey! thanks for the blog-link!

    as for robert spencer’s quran reading: wow that’s great! i’ll be there on that blog, offering my own understanding of those verses as well…

    there are some really good parts of the quran, like in any other religious book,… but as is typical, they’re followed by horrible commandments as well. heh.

    i haven’t heard nice things about robert spencer and he IS quoted extravagantly by “islamophobes” (and guess what? right wing christian conservatives!) but at least he differentiates between the good and the bad part of islam.

  • 3. Samah  |  May 31, 2007 at 8:41 am


    you said: there are some really good parts of the quran, like in any other religious book,… but as is typical, they’re followed by horrible commandments as well. heh.

    i say: this is just a lack of understanding on your part. were you taught as a muslim or did you simply grow up in the “culture”? There is a great difference.


  • 4. Saman  |  May 31, 2007 at 8:49 am

    As for this Robert Spencer fellow. May God have mercy on his soul.

  • 5. Samah  |  May 31, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Oops… mistyped my name on my last comment but I’m the same person.

  • 6. salahudin  |  May 31, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Saman, it’s easier to believe that the person you know nothing about (me) doesn’t know what he’s talking about, than it is for you to believe that there may actually be a problem in the Quran…

    All I’ll say is that my knowledge of Islam exceeds the common Muslims’ understanding.

    In fact, let me point you to a nice article to read:


  • 7. societyvs  |  May 31, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Good to hear some Muslims talking over the differences in the religion and the text instead of Christians for once – progress – I believe so.

  • 8. societyvs  |  May 31, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Man I loved Towelie on South Park – always getting high and playing guitar – he was like this add on character that came from nowhere (very creative of them).

  • 9. John T  |  June 8, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    There is a clear difference between what David Plotz did with his excellent Blogging the Bible series and what Spencer will be doing with his Qu’ran exercise.

    David Plotz was, as a relatviely unobservant Jew, undergoing a genuine learning experience. Spencer comes to the Qu’ran as one who has written extensively, and unfortunately, rabidly on his already negative interpretation of the Qu’ran. He consistently looks for the worst possible interpretation.

    It would be far more interesting for an intelligent informed non-observant Muslim, unfamiliar with the text to approach the Qu’ran and give us his (or her) interpretation (which would be more equivalent to the Plotz blog) than to get Spencer’s opinion – especially as he is an aoplogist for the Crusades and Catholic extremist.

  • 10. salahudin  |  June 8, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    I agree with John

  • 11. HeIsSailing  |  June 8, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    John, you may be right about that. Spencer blogged the first surah (Surah Al-Fatihah) last week, and as promised I read along. After reading Spencer’s take on it, I realized that, while he certainly knows his stuff, he is undoubtedly … agenda driven, for lack of a better term.

    95% of his analysis was based on the last half of the 7th verse of the first Surah – the prayer that Allah not show the straight path to those who have earned His anger nor those who have gone astray (ie the Jews and the Christians). No mention of the origins, the poetry, any analysis of the first 6 verses, or anything else really.. just that Islam does not look kindly on Jews or Christians and America had better be very afraid.

    Oh well, I was hoping for something more well-rounded.

    With that said, I read a few articles on Plotz’ Blogging the Bible series, and found that a real snoozer. I am no scholar, but i know enough about the Bible that if I were to read a blog on it, it would be by someone who has some insights into it that I could benefit and learn from. I still enjoy reading and learning from it, and I appreciate the Bible for what it is. I would like to try and read the Quran with that approch also, but it looks like Spencer has other agendas in mind.

    I guess Spencer’s Blogging the Quran series is more for Western Christians itching for a fight than for Agnostics/Atheists wanting to learn more about where their faiths really came from. That is what I got out of it anyway.

    Maybe salahudin could do his own Blogging the Quran series?

    Oh well, Surah Al-Baqara (The Cow) is this Sunday and I will again read along with Spencer. Let’s hope for the best.

  • 12. HeIsSailing  |  June 8, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    One more thing! I forgot to mention that the site that hosts Blogging the Quran has been blocked to additional commentators (like myself), so I cannot reply to the blogs to ask questions I may have! I wrote the webmaster to request additional registered commentators for the Quan series, but never got a reply. Drat!

    Well, if it does open for comments, I will tell everyone here. It might be worth the effort to flood a Christian blogsite that trashes Islam with a few dozen opinionated atheists. You want some fireworks?

  • 13. salahudin  |  June 8, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    hahahah that would be awesome! count on a few towelians joining in the fray if you go for it!

    and i would blog the entire quran, but fortunately for myself, i’d rather do something more constructive than spend more time than i already do online! lol

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