Islam versus Muslims & The Apostate
By Anjuli Pandavar
Publisher: Stapis, 2021
Making a point to always say that not all Muslims are violent or deceptive or ignorant, etc., whenever criticising violent or deceptive or ignorant Muslims, is to apologise for criticising Muslims. In no other criticism would anyone think it necessary to pander to anyone who chooses to feel themselves included in criticism that quite obviously does not apply to them. Muslims claim this special consideration for themselves. To acquiesce in their claim is already to place one's thoughts and actions under Muslim control. Anjuli Pandavar is one of those people able to recognise totalitarianism when it stares them in the face. She will not submit, not now, not ever. Criticism of Muslims as people is the main purpose of Islam versus Muslims & The Apostate, while sweeping up many themes along the way, such as the role of Muslim scholars in keeping Muslims ignorant of Islam. But her criticism is not unsympathetic, indeed, it is deeply empathetic, flowing from an intimate understanding. Early in the book we read:
A contemporary Muslim is an anguished being preoccupied with unshakeable mediaeval concerns. Never before in history has Islam faced a danger such as it faces today. For the first time, Muslims en masse are reclaiming their humanity and rejoining the flow of history. Islam has always relied on Muslims being unequivocally Muslim in clear contradistinction to the kufaar, the unbelievers, treating kufr values and mores with utter disgust and contempt. But history has played a trick on Islam, and increasing numbers of Muslims are finding that the values and mores of the infidels both acknowledge their humanity, and naturally grow within their own hearts, gradually forcing out the Qur’an so unnaturally lodged there during their early childhood. This drama plays out as Islam struggles against Muslims and Muslims struggle both amongst and within themselves, leaving an ummah locked in a great struggle of each against all, an ummah in meltdown.
and near the end:
The walking contradiction that is the Muslim, the conflict that is the Muslim, the inner struggle that is the Muslim, the anguish that is the Muslim, and unhappiness that is the Muslim; these are the signs that Islam’s time is up.
When a book on Islam opens with a homage to Tacitus, you know that you are in for much more than just a very good read. “Slaughter, Desolation and Peace” is how Pandavar introduces the Islamic landscape, one of the sixteen themes that structure this sobering journey through the tortured Muslim psyche. The author assumes the reader’s general familiarity with Islam (although Arabic terms are usefully explained in the copious Endnotes) and instead, introduces us to the nightmarish contradictions that make up the Muslim’s inner world.
Looking at the Muslim through broad themes, rather than an encyclopaedic listing of Islamic topics, or an autobiographical narrative of bad experiences, Pandavar offers her readers a number of holistic journeys into the different pressures bearing down on Muslims, seen through the eyes of a sensitive cosmopolitan observer looking back over what she once was. These themes are titled: Fatal Overreach; The Future; Fear; An Incomplete Complete Way of Life; Truth; Supremacism; Ethics; Autonomous Individual; Ex-Muslims and Identity Politics; Ex-Muslims, “Islamism” and other frauds; Ex-Muslims and Intellectual responsibility; Converts, Double-edged pocketknife; The Final Delusion; 1442; and lastly, My Way out of Darkness. In what sounds more like a manifesto than an Introduction, we read:
It was said of Yevgeny Zamyatin and Friedrich Nietzsche that “both authors published explorations of morality the messages of which they later made explicit in works of non-fiction”. I should like to think that I am here publishing explorations of morality the message of which I later make explicit in a work of fiction. The Apostate makes explicit the morality of the message in Islam versus Muslims.
Islam versus Muslims & The Apostate are two books in one. Its coup de grâce is The Apostate, an impressive work of fiction that consolidates into gut-wrenching experiences everything the reader will have encountered in the cerebral, non-fiction Islam versus Muslims. The Apostate presents a single scene: a meeting of scholars in the Conference Room at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu at the time of the jihad terrorist takeover of that city. Through the juxtaposition of Sadiqa, a young woman who owes her life to UNESCO (the apostate of the title), with an unnamed official from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, all the Muslim inner struggles are brought to the table, so to speak, and allowed to interplay to devastating effect. Such a productive partnership between fiction and non-fiction is rare.
The book's extraordinary depth and complexity stand as testaments to the author’s openness towards all that history, culture and the world has to offer. She is also proud, perhaps a little too proud, of her independent mind, throwing down the gauntlet to all who rely on security in numbers, seemingly relishing the prospect of a fight on multiple fronts. Her defiance is nowhere more explicit than in:
To those who would label me a racist, a bigot, an “Islamophobe”, or “far Right”, I say be my guest; I could not care less. There is no name you can call me that will get me to deny that Muslims cut their little daughters’ labia and clitorises, beat their wives, stone women to death, kill their wayward daughters, pimp out their divorced wives before reconciling with them, hold slaves, capture and rape sex slaves, rape children, kill apostates, and all the rest of it. If the prospect of being called a racist, a bigot, an “Islamophobe”, or “far Right” is enough to silence you, or, worse, get you to obscure or sanitise the Muslims’ monstrous ethical track record, then you are not someone whose labelling I would attach much credence to, let alone take counsel from.
Anjuli Pandavar quotes lavishly from the core Islamic texts, but does not confine herself to doctrine. She contends that in order to really understand Islam, one also needs to understand Muslims and appreciate just how intertwined the religion and its adherents are. It becomes clear, as the book unfolds, that it is a relationship alien to the modern world, thus laying the groundwork for Pandavar’s central thesis: a Muslim is something other than what the Western mind, including Western Muslims and ex-Muslims who have only ever known freedom, assume a Muslim to be. Our Western way of looking at the world does not equip us to understand the relationship Muslims have to their faith. Our understanding of the faith itself is incomplete without understanding the role that Muslims play in perpetuating that faith. This book brings home another crucial point: history has endowed the world with ex-Muslims, a unique and invaluable resource, but it has cast its pearls before swine.
Islam versus Muslims & The Apostate is a book well worth waiting for, one for your Christmas hampers.
From the critics:
This may well be the best book yet on Islam. Pandavar understands it from the inside, she’s read all the texts, she knows what she thinks, she’s steeped enough in Western culture and history to make highly salient and sophisticated points, she doesn’t pussyfoot around or pull any punches, and she writes like a dream.
—Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept: How radical Islam is destroying the West from within.
FOUR HORSEMEN AND A WONDERFUL APOSTATE
Anjuli Pandavar is an angry fighter against every God, but especially against Allah and Islam. Born and raised a Muslim in South Africa, she is a British writer and scholar, and a new pillar of New Atheism. Her critique of Islam is devastating. Anjuli presents documentation showing that while people all over the world can easily be incited and turned into murderous mobs, Islam is a religion of continuous incitement into hatred of unbelievers, apostates and anyone who dares to doubt. There is only one way to oppose this constant incitement: by leaving this hateful religion. Is she an Islamophobe? The very opposite. This writer does not fear to show the ugliest sides of her former religion. And she is galloping further than the famous Four Horsemen. Islam versus Muslims & The Apostate is not just another item among many ex-Muslim publications; it is a powerful manifesto against the most barbaric religion in the world today.
—Andrzej Koraszewski, journalist, author of "Ateista" and "Co izraelscy żołnierze robią palestyńskim dzieciom," and owner of http://www.listyznaszegosadu.pl/