“Civilisation and Islam are two different things.” Former Muslims, it is now down to us.

Not all former Muslims are there yet, and many will not get there, but as long as we do not fear honesty, we will need neither “community” nor ex-Muslim cult in which to seek comfort, and we will see clearly that we had abandoned the greatest threat to civilisation.

“Civilisation and Islam are two different things.” Former Muslims, it is now down to us.
Fathi Muhammad with sculpture of Abu al ‘Alaa al Ma’arri, in 1944

Special Series on Apostasy: There's no better time than Ramadan


The words quoted in the title are those of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, spat at a Canadian “moderate Muslim” academic who was naïve enough to make a special trip to Najaf to plead for dispensation to mention Islam in his lectures.[1] The account by Abdulaziz Sachedina of his inadvertent submission to an inquisition by Ayatollah Ali Sistani drips with pathos. On 20 August 1998, Sachedina sought to clear up a small misunderstanding concerning his lectures at the University of Toronto.

Had Sachedina been familiar with Galileo Galilei’s little run-in with the Pope, he might have thought better of going to any such trouble at all. Galileo, at least, had to be dragged before the Holy See; he did not present himself for a flogging of his own volition. In a series of deepening humiliations over the course of a “total time of three hours and ten minutes” stretched out over two days, Sachedina tried to explain his job as an academic to the Ayatollah, while the latter tried, with increasing irritation and rudeness, to prohibit Sachedina from ever saying anything about Islam again. Sachedina, growing ever more exasperated, recalls:

I informed the Ayatollah that I was among the seven American professors who were invited …to participate in a workshop in Tehran …on Civil Society and Civilizational Dialogue… He [Ayatollah Sistani] interrupted me saying that I could speak on civilization because that “is not Islam”. “Civilization and Islam are two different things.”

It is not uncommon these days to hear Israel described as civilisation’s “canary in the coal mine”. People like Abdulaziz Sachedina, who keep alive the dream of Islamic reform and dangle the poisoned carrot of “civilisational [or interfaith] dialogue”, provide that small bubble of oxygen that keeps the canary alive, while all around life asphyxiates. Israel is, in effect, “civilisation’s last stand” and if the implosion of civilisation in the West and the blind stubborn refusal of Israelis to acknowledge who their real enemy is are anything to go by, this really is our last stand.

Civilisation and Islam are not just two different things, they are two antithetical things. One can only exist instead of the other. Islam cannot be consummated without the ultimate act of barbarism:

The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

Of course, this is the notorious genocide hadith, Sahih Muslim 6985. We, former Muslims, know this hadith. We also know that there is no point to being Muslim if you cannot reach the Ahira, the Afterlife. And according to this hadith, between the Muslim and the Afterlife stand the Jews. We know that this hadith is taken very seriously by every Muslim, and not just by the “extremists”. The greatest tragedy, unfortunately, is that Jews who know of this hadith do not believe that anyone could possibly take it seriously because it is so grotesque, besides, they all know one or two nice Muslims, so the hadith must be wrong. For some reason they think that only one group of genocidal people can come up with a Final Solution. No one but us, former Muslims, are in a position to disabuse the Jews of their fatal Islamic romanticism.

This brings us to a genre of headlines that appeared during the last few days: “Israel alone”, “Israel stands alone”, “Israel will go it alone”, etc. Granted, it does not carry the same resignation as, say, “Israel isolated”, or “Israel pariah state”. I guess things could be worse. But is it as bad as it seems, and if it is, does it have to be? That, dear ex-Muslim, is down to us.

Another phenomenon of the post-7 October world is respectable journalists doubting whether Hamas can be eradicated. It is a fair question, but listen more closely, and you quickly discern that the basis of the doubt is whether “the ideology” can be eradicated. Sometimes “the ideology” is stated as “the Hamas ideology”. What a mystery. What could this “Hamas ideology” possibly be? No one will tell you that Hamas is actually an Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement (sound of air drawn in through the teeth). A bit too direct; very little ambiguity to hide behind. Let’s just stick with the ideology of the acronym, rather than the ideology of the full name.

Such coyness when it comes to Islam, unfortunately, also afflicts Israel, where the complete range of rose-coloured spectacles are available, all the way from “political Islam” to “Islamist jihadism”. Very few want to openly say “Islam”, so Islamic Resistance Movement remains hidden behind Hamas. As a corollary, they must always hide “Muslim” behind “Arab”, in the same way the British, in their rape gang epidemic, tried very hard to hide “Muslim” first behind “Asian”, and when that failed, they stuck it behind “Pakistani”, which did not work either. Hiding rape behind grooming still seems to be holding, more or less.

In the same way that Islamic Resistance Movement gets too uncomfortably close to saying Islam, so saying ex-Muslim, or former Muslim, gets too close to not only saying Muslim, but implying that there is something wrong with being Muslim. Apostatising from Islam implies that there is something wrong with Islam. If apostasy from Islam is acknowledged, then what becomes of Islamism? We’ve got to have our Islamism. How else do we protect our friendly Muslims, behind whom we hide our sentimentality and cowardice? For some unfathomable reason, ex-Muslims just will not call themselves ex-Islamists.

Deep down, they grudgingly admit that these apostates are not spiteful, they might just be more honest than those who peddle in “Islamism” and “political Islam” are willing or able to be. Ex-Muslims smudge the rose-coloured spectacles, and so Jews in general and Israelis in particular, are unable to admit that the one friend they cannot afford to shun is precisely the one who knows Islam from the inside, and the one uniquely placed to save the Jews, save their state and save civilisation.

Not all former Muslims are there yet, and many will not get there, but as long as we do not fear honesty, we will need neither “community” nor ex-Muslim cult in which to seek comfort (we most certainly do not need the Left), and we will see clearly that we had abandoned the greatest threat to civilisation. We will see that now that we are former Muslims, our greatest contribution to the world is to defend civilisation.

Contemplate this question and it becomes clear why the genocide hadith exists, and why we, apostates from Islam, must make our knowledge and experience of that horrific ideology available to the Jews so they may protect themselves and Israel from what we know is coming, even if they do not. We will be rebuffed, sometimes even rudely. But this question is bigger than the individual ignorant Jew, or the naïve Jew, or the coward Jew. This is why apostasy from Islam is consummated in unwavering support for Israel. No one but us, former Muslims, can help the Jews save civilisation.


  1. Abdulaziz Sachedina, “What happened in Najaf?” [no date, presumed late August 1998] http://islam.uga.edu/sachedina_silencing.html