Continuing her long night’s journey into light, the brave, brilliant, charismatic, and controversial New York Times #1 bestselling author of Infidel and Nomad, Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes a powerful plea for a Muslim reformation as the only way to end the horrors of terrorism, sectarian warfare, and the repression of women and minorities. Her latest book Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now proposes a powerful idea about what the West can do. The following is an excerpt from page 218 of Heretic:
A Unique Role for the West
Whenever I make the case for reform of the Muslim world, someone invariably says: “That is not our project — it is for Muslims only. We should stay out of it.” But I am not talking about the kind of military intervention that has got the West into so much trouble over the years.
For years, we have spent trillions on waging war against “terror” and “extremism” that would have been much better spent protecting Muslim dissidents and giving them the necessary platforms and resources to counter that vast network of Islamic centers, madrasas, and mosques which has been largely responsible for spreading the most noxious forms of Islamic fundamentalism [Wahhabism]. For years, we have treated the people financing that vast network — the Saudis, the Qataris, and the now repentant Emirates — as our allies. In the midst of all our efforts at policing, surveillance, and even military action, we in the West have not bothered to develop an effective counter-narrative because from the onset we have denied that Islamic extremism is in any way related to Islam. We persist in focusing on the violence and not the ideas that give rise to it. (End quote)
History points to only a few possible counter-narratives — I’ll show two and propose a third. Whether you see the East-West crisis as a clash of civilizations, or of cultures, or of religion, it is ultimately a battle of ideas.
First: In the battle of ideas during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan wasn’t the only winner. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali points out (pp 219-220), the Cold War was not merely won by force or a show of force. She writes:
The Free Europe Press mailed numerous [translated] books to dissidents in Eastern Europe, sneaking their materials past the censors wherever they could. By the end of the Cold War, “it was estimated that over 10 million Western books and magazines had infiltrated the Communist half of Europe through the book mailing program.” (End quote)
Second: For almost a thousand years, when the Catholic Church had all Europe’s power and glory, we called it the Dark Ages. This period of faith and filth endured for almost a thousand years until a counter-narrative we called the Renaissance brought light to darkness. And the Renaissance was fueled by the Greek classics — Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, etc. — translated into Latin. Life is always a battle of ideas.
Third: A New Counter-Narrative
We live in a very special time; a time when the despotic rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Indonesia and other such countries cannot, I repeat cannot, block PDF downloads onto computers, tablets, iPads, or smartphones. Muslims young and old can safely read these without the knowledge of their religious or political authorities.
My counter-narrative proposal (see below) rests on the premise of a receptive audience in the Muslim world. Fortunately, this has already been confirmed. An Iraqi called Bassam Al-Baghdadi, who now lives in Sweden, has translated Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion into Arabic. It’s reception has been phenomenal. What follows comes from the Huffington Post (05/09/2016):
To say that Bassam’s work has been well received would be an understatement. The PDF was downloaded ten million times, with 30 per cent going to Saudi Arabia. Bassam said that there were over 1,000 downloads on the very first day after he uploaded it, and the numbers only climbed as the translation was picked up and shared on the blogs, websites and forums of prominent Arab atheists. (End quote)
In the battle of ideas, this is reason to hope. Since Saudi Arabia has only 31 million people that means at least one person in ten has an Arabic copy of the The God Delusion — a completely unexpected outcome. Only the intentionally blind will not see this as the way forward to save us from killing each other. The USA has wasted between 5 and 7 trillion dollars destroying Iraq leaving death and destruction while creating numerous terrorist groups. The chaos of war has left many in the East open to the worst form of Islam, Wahhabism, Arabia’s main export. The time has come for a new counter-narrative. Click the book cover at the left to download a free PDF of this transformative book in Arabic.
I propose that the West flood the Islamic world with secular books, not bombs. As the old adage says, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and a lot less bloody. Every other “solution” involves guns, bombs, and death. Following in the footsteps Bassam Al-Baghdadi, a book I wrote called Allah, Jesus, and Yahweh: The Gods That Failed, is being translated into Arabic as I type this.
Prof. James Alcock, York University, Toronto, one of the founders along with James Randi and Martin Gardner of the Skeptical Inquirer wrote the following blurb for my book:
This is an extremely impressive book, one which should enlighten any open-minded reader,theist and non-theist alike. Harrison transports the reader from the ancient battle at Marathon across two millennia, following the march of civilization to the present day. He shows in a clear and engaging manner the moral corruption that is inherent in the ancient texts that continue to serve as the scriptural foundations of modern religions. His compelling mixture of philosophy, theology, astronomy, psychology and physics, presented always in a very accessible and entertaining style, persuasively demonstrates how science illuminates and promotes understanding while religion ossifies thinking patterns and all too often produces intergroup conflict. I highly recommend this book to all. This was a most enjoyable read. (End quote)
How Can You Help? You can be a partner in this campaign by donating something — large or small. Get involved. As a free person, this is your chance to stand and delivery. The cost of translation is $4,750. All monies, every cent, will go toward the translation. For every donation, I’m giving away a free PDF of my 380 page book Allah, Jesus, and Yahweh: The Gods That Failed in English (see above).
THOMAS JEFFERSON well understood that “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” In the marketplace of ideas, we must win this battle with Islamic extremism — consider the extraordinary example of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Forget banning people! Forget extreme vetting! Forget bombing! Stand with us in the light!
For every donation, large or small, please download a free PDF of Allah, Jesus, and Yahweh: The Gods That Failed in English. The Enlightenment Project is funded by your donations.