Thanks for the interview. The questions are below following my opening statement.
I have not read your book so I am not going to make any judgments on it. It has created some interest and in your blog you seem to be dedicated to hyping the threat that Islam and Muslims pose. Of course, as an American-Muslim, this is disturbing to me. The average everyday Muslim has to carry the weight of these sorts of anti-Muslim campaigns on their shoulders in their daily lives. The Muslim child in school has to sit in a classroom being shunned by fellow students and maybe even treated poorly by their teachers, the Muslim job-seeker gets passed over for a job, the Muslim business-owner loses business because of their religion, etc. . You may say that this is not your intention, and that you would not encourage such ill-treatment of Muslims, but the practical effect of what you and others like you do creates a climate that leads to discrimination against Muslims.
Below are a few questions I would like to ask you.
UL: You point to 23 who have left the “horrors” of growing up Muslim. Yet, right here in America, there are many hundreds of thousands including me who grew-up in the church and have left for Islam (Praise be to God). I for one grew-up in the Baptist Church and was baptized at the age of 11 after being “born again”. However, I left the church due to my inability to accept the trinity, the divinity of a man, and other teachings along with the social realities of Christianity in America particularly as it related to race, war, and poverty. People like me openly left Christianity and were blessed to be guided to Islam; but many millions more have not converted they have simply left the church and we see today that Christianity is far from the dominant culture in American life and is little more than a sub-culture with little effect on the popular culture. So, my question for you is, why have the hundreds of thousands like me left Christianity for Islam, and why have millions more left Christianity for secularism?
JR: First of all, thank you Umar very much for the opportunity to do this interview. I hope that through discussing Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out, that many Muslims will join the fight for human rights and human freedoms even if it means talking the very difficult position of challenging many of the tenants of their own religion.
You’ve certainly begun with quite a loaded and accusatory intro. Certainly such a beginning will do nothing to build bridges of understanding or promote your cause. For now, I will do my best to ignore any overly assumptive or accusatory questions.
I do need to clarify one issue before beginning however. Criticism of Islam is certainly not “Muslim-Hatred” anymore than criticizing Communism is Russian Hatred or criticizing American foreign policy would equal American hatred ( UL: I agree 100%, but I hear hate in the voices and tone of many towards Muslims and if you do not accept this go to the message boards of Little Green Footballs or Jihadwatch and tell me how much Christian “love” you see). And I’m not sure how you could make such a roundly illogical leap. To criticize Islam and its various evil practices and teachings most certainly should not be misinterpreted to mean that I in any way hate Muslims. A Proverb of Solomon teaches us that, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) In other words, because I genuinely care about and love Muslims, I am obligated to speak the truth to you about that which is destroying your soul and your community. It is those who only speak flattery that you should be leery of.