Jeff Tayler interviews Lubna Ahmed (and writes a memoriam for his dad)

Over at Quillette, Jeff Tayler has a nice interview with a Muslim apostate who’s new to most of us: Lubna Ahmed. She’s an engineer from Baghdad, and, after going on the Rubin Report via Skype 3 years ago, and proclaiming her atheism and dislike of Islam, she became a pariah in Iraq. She was attacked and got death threats. Ahmed had little choice but to move, and came to the U.S. with the help of the Richard Dawkins Foundation and the Center for Inquiry. Now fairly safe, she speaks freely about Islam.

It’s a far-reaching conversation, and will of course not only be deemed “Islamophobic”, even though it’s about the religion and not the people, but will also make Ahmed an endangered person. For nearly all ex-Muslims in America, or at least those who are vocal about the problems with the faith, are endangered. Some, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, need bodyguards. Remember when you hear that “all religions are the same” or “Islam is no more dangerous than any other faith,” that apostate Christians, Jews, or Hindus don’t risk murder when they declare their atheism and begin criticizing their former religion. Only Islam motivates people to become fatwa-following killers.

Ahmed’s quiet demeanor contrasts starkly with her strong words. (She’s only 26!) I’ll let you have the pleasure—if that’s the right word—of reading Jeff’s interview for yourself. Here’s just one excerpt (with both Ahmed and Tayler’s words) to give you a taste, but the whole thing is sufficiently short that even those who are attention-deprived can read it. Ahmed covers the story of her growing unbelief, the misogyny of Iraq, the hijab, Western reaction to Islam, and so on.

During our talk Ahmed repeatedly returned to the misogyny of Islam, and made it clear that this is what most angered her about the faith.

“In my country I saw a lot of women, a lot of children, treated in a very bad way because of that religion. Look at what happened in Mosul and what ISIS did there. ISIS reflects the true identity of Islam. Islam treats women as trash, as, I’m sorry, not even animals. Women are just objects in Islamic countries, in Islam.”

One who hopes to argue with Ahmed here will find that the faith denies women rights to a degree no enlightened observer could justify. It values their testimony in court as half that of a man; sanctions the barbarous savagery of female genital mutilation; deprives women of half their inheritance in favor of male heirs; demands that they submit to their husbands (even abusive husbands, whom they may be compelled to share with as many as three other wives); and, as mentioned above, allows men to seize them as sex slaves in jihad. Backed up by the Hadith, the Quran devotes no small number of surahs to condoning slavery, including sex-slavery.

In view of all that, it should come as no surprise that the World Economic Forum has consistently found that nineteen of the twenty worst countries for women on earth are Muslim-majority. Regarding personal freedoms in general, Muslim countries have, year after year, ranked overwhelmingly as “not free.”

And then comes the matter of veiling. By chance we happened to speak on “World Hijab Day” – a vile slap in the face of the brave women of Iran protesting against the Islamic regime for the freedom not to wear it, yet, out of mistaken notions of solidarity, celebrated in the West by at least some morally oblivious, regressive leftist simpletons. It was not hard to imagine what Ahmed thought of the Islamic headscarf, yet I asked.

“Islam wants all women to wear the hijab – it’s a sign that women are slaves, not human beings. Whether you’re eight years old or an adult woman, you don’t have the right to choose for yourself. Islam has to control you [if you’re a female]. Menshould control your whole life as a woman. . . . Islam was created by men to control women, to be slaves, to use and abuse them, sexually, physically, mentally, and treat them like trash, as if they were nothing.”

Heres’s Ahmed with Dave Rubin last year, now able to have a live conversation:

I’d also like to call your attention to Jeff’s essay on his father’s death, published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, called “The chiming bells of mortality.” Traveling to a Greek island, he limns his father’s death (and reflects on his own mortality) with ancient Greek poetry. I found it very moving.



  1. ethologist
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I think Islam is less different from other religions than implied by a list of misogynistic things the Quran condones or recommends. After all, the history of Christianity, Hinduism, and Mormonism includes plenty of examples of misogynistic/homophobic/xenophobic/racist practices that are justified in the name of the religion. If there is a difference it is that modern Islamic cultures are more tied to a literal reading of their religious tradition than is the case for (most) Christians or Hindus or Mormons. As I see it the problem isn’t with Islam per se, it is with religion as a force for bending the nature of individuals to the will of traditional society.

    • Posted February 21, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I should have clarified that what I meant is how the religion is construed and practiced in today’s world.

    • glen1davidson
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      There’s something to that, but it is partly how Islam works that I think tends to keep it literalistic. Mostly, Islam is non-hierarchical (Shiites being more hierarchical), and the Qur’an is everything.

      Christianity tends more to hierarchy, which has its drawbacks, but it also opens the religious texts to reinterpretation, since the hierarchy decides what counts . Then there’s the fact that the Christian Bible is hardly very consistent, and then you end up with endless schisms and a bewildering array of claims about the Bible. There are a lot of splits in Islam, too, but in the end it’s the Qur’an that matters, and it’s not as inconsistent as the Bible. And then the literalistic reading is more accessible both to the laity and to not especially knowledgeable imams, the ones who will be telling most of the people what is told in the Qur’an.

      I certainly don’t know Judaism very well, but I think that the endless debates over a Jewish Bible that also isn’t terribly consistent end up making a lot of Jews wonder what the point is in the end, too.

      It seems to me that the fact that Islam is more grassroots than at least Christianity, plus the fact that the Qur’an is the work of one man (and I suppose some rewriting–got rid of the Satanic verses at least), is partly why Islam remains fairly tied to a literal Qur’an (yes, colonialism, etc., but if that’s important it’s not everything either), and why it may remain so a good deal longer.

      Glen Davidson

  2. glen1davidson
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Just think of the hijab as signifying that a woman’s testimony counts for only half of a man’s.

    That makes it a great fashion accessory.

    Glen Davidso

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think we cans say “[o}nly Islam motivates people to become fatwa-following killers.” It’s certainly much more common these days in Islam than in other religions, but there have been killers of other denominations whose underlying motivation was religious — the Christian nuts who murder abortion providers, for example, or the ultra-nationalist Israeli Jew who offed Yitzhak Rabin.

    • Posted February 21, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      The key word there was “fatwa”. It was meant to imply that these kinds of murders have official approbation. And only Islam does that.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Point taken, though I’m not so sure that some of the abortion-clinic murders haven’t been getting encouragement from the far fringes of the Operation-Rescue-style right-to-life movement. Hell, some of the murderers themselves, like Rev. Paul Jennings Hill, have been putative men of the cloth. Not that the two situations are at all comparable in scope.

  4. Posted February 21, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Lubna Ahmed and Linda Sarsour should get together and have a nice little chat.

    If there are some 500 million muslim women out there, that is a force to be reckoned with. I would guess a good proportion of them do not like the violence, misogyny of their given faith.
    Ahmed is a light.

  5. Posted February 21, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  6. Steve Pollard
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I too found Jeff Taylor’s meditation on his father’s death moving. Anyone whose loved ones have died – ie all of us – has to find their own way of celebrating, mourning and remembering, not least because many of us find the conventional means (usually religious) so inadequate.

    Douglas Hofstadter managed to find a way of reconciling himself to the premature death of his wife by reflecting that her very existence had created a permanent alteration to the state of his own brain and that of everyone who had ever known her or even heard of her, thus enabling her to exist for many years after her death. For me, my own dead friends and family live on in much the same way, including even my mother’s mother, who died in childbirth in 1927, and of course whom I never knew. I find this quite consoling.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 23, 2018 at 1:31 am | Permalink

      A very nice way to look at it, indeed.

    • Posted February 24, 2018 at 3:08 am | Permalink

      Thank you.

  7. tony in san diego
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I would say she is Islamophobic. She left her home out of fear. And still fears reprisals. All based on her experience with Muslim people.

    • Paul S
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Phobia is an irrational fear, hers is perfectly rational.

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Paraphrasing a Soviet dissident, I’ll say that Islamophobia is the reaction of a normal person to whom Islam is shown.

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