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Template:Islam Template:Criticism of Islam Criticism of Islam has existed since Islam's formative stages. Early written criticism came from Christians, prior to the ninth century, many of whom viewed Islam as a radical Christian heresy.[1] Later there appeared criticism from the Muslim world itself, and also from Jewish writers and from ecclesiastical Christians.[2][3][4]

Objects of criticism include the morality of the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, both in his public and personal life.[4][5] Issues relating to the authenticity and morality of the Qur'an, the Islamic holy book, are also discussed by critics.[6][7] Other criticisms focus on the question of human rights in modern Islamic nations, and the treatment of women in Islamic law and practice.[8][9] Some critics of multiculturalism suggest Islam has a negative influence on the ability of Muslim immigrants to assimilate in Western nations.[10]


Early Islam

The earliest surviving written criticisms of Islam are to be found in the writings of Christians, who came under the early dominion of the Islamic Caliphate. One such Christian was John of Damascus ( c. 676 - 749 AD), who was familiar with Islam and Arabic. The second chapter of his book, The Fount of Wisdom, titled 'Concerning Heresies', presents a series of discussions between Christians and Muslims. John claimed an Arian monk (whom he did not know was Bahira) influenced Muhammad and viewed the Islamic doctrines as nothing more than a hodgepodge culled from the Bible.[11]

Writing on Islam's claim of Abrahamic ancestry, John explained that the Arabs were called "Saracens" because they were "empty of Sarah". They were called "Hagarenes" because they were "the descendants of the slave-girl Hagar".[12] In the opinion of John V. Tolan, a Professor of Medieval History, John's biography of Muhammad is "based on deliberate distortions of Muslim traditions", but Tolan does not elaborate his statement.[13]

Notable early critics of Islam included:

  • Muhammad al Warraq, a 9th century skeptical scholar and critic of Islam.
  • Ibn al-Rawandi was initially a Muslim, but became a freethinker who repudiated Islam and revealed religion in general.

Medieval Islamic world

In the early centuries of the Islamic Caliphate, the Islamic law allowed citizens to freely express their views, including criticism of Islam and religious authorities, without fear of persecution.[14][15][16][17] As such, there have been several notable Muslim critics and skeptics of Islam that arose from within the Islamic world itself. In tenth and eleventh-century Syria there lived a blind poet called Al-Ma'arri. He became well-known for a poetry that was affected by a "pervasive pessimism." He labeled religions in general as "noxious weeds" and said that Islam does not have a monopoly on truth. He had particular contempt for the ulema, writing that:

They recite their sacred books, although the fact informs me that these are fiction from first to last. O Reason, thou (alone) speakest the truth. Then perish the fools who forged the religious traditions or interpreted them!

Another early critic was the Persian physician Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi in the 10th century. He criticized Islam and all revealed religions in general in several treatises.[19] Despite his views, he remained a celebrated physician across the Islamic world.[20] In 1280, the Jewish philosopher, Ibn Kammuna, criticized Islam in his book Examination of the Three Faiths. He reasoned that the Sharia was incompatible with the principles of justice, and that this undercut the notion of Muhammad being the perfect man: "there is no proof that Muhammad attained perfection and the ability to perfect others as claimed."[21][22] The philosopher thus claimed that people converted to Islam from ulterior motives:

That is why, to this day we never see anyone converting to Islam unless in terror, or in quest of power, or to avoid heavy taxation, or to escape humiliation, or if taken prisoner, or because of infatuation with a Muslim woman, or for some similar reason. Nor do we see a respected, wealthy, and pious non-Muslim well versed in both his faith and that of Islam, going over to the Islamic faith without some of the aforementioned or similar motives.

According to Bernard Lewis, just as it is natural for a Muslim to assume that the converts to his religion are attracted by its truth, it is equally natural for the convert's former coreligionists to look for baser motives and Ibn Kammuna's list seems to cover most of such nonreligious motives.[23]

Maimonides, one of the foremost 12th century rabbinical arbiters and philosophers, sees the relation of Islam to Judaism as primarily theoretical. Maimonides has no quarrel with the strict monotheism of Islam, but finds fault with the practical politics of Muslim regimes. He also considered Islamic ethics and politics to be inferior to their Jewish counterparts. Maimonides criticised what he perceived as the lack of virtue in the way Muslims rule their societies and relate to one another.[24] In his Epistle to Yemenite Jewry, he refers to Mohammad, as "hameshuga" – "that madman".[25]

Medieval Christianity

  • In Dante's Inferno, Muhammad is portrayed as split in half, representing his status as a heresiarch (one who split from the Christian church).
  • Some medieval ecclesiastical writers portrayed Muhammad as possessed by Satan, a "precursor of the Antichrist" or the Antichrist himself.[4]
  • Denis the Carthusian wrote two treatises to refute Islam at the request of Nicholas of Cusa, Contra perfidiam Mahometi, et contra multa dicta Sarracenorum libri quattuor and Dialogus disputationis inter Christianum et Sarracenum de lege Christi et contra perfidiam Mahometi.[26]
  • The Tultusceptru de libro domni Metobii, an Andalusian manuscript with unknown dating, shows how Muhammad (called Ozim, from Hashim) was tricked by Satan into adulterating an originally pure divine revelation. The story argues God was concerned about the spiritual fate of the Arabs and wanted to correct their derivation from the faith. He then sends an angel to the monk Osius who orders him to preach to the Arabs. Osius however is in ill-health and orders a young monk, Ozim, to carry out the angel's orders instead. Ozim sets out to follow his orders, but gets stopped by an evil angel on the way. The ignorant Ozim believes him to be the same angel that spoke to Osius before. The evil angel modifies and corrupts the original message given to Ozim by Osius, and renames Ozim Muhammad. From this followed the erroneous teachings of Islam, according to the tultusceptrum.[27]
  • According to many Christians, the coming of Muhammad was foretold in the Holy Bible. According to the monk Bede this is in Genesis 16:12, which describes Ishmael as "a wild man" whose "hand will be against every man". Bede says about Muhammad: "Now how great is his hand against all and all hands against him; as they impose his authority upon the whole length of Africa and hold both the greater part of Asia and some of Europe, hating and opposing all."[28]
  • In 1391 a dialogue was believed to have occurred between Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos and a Persian scholar in which the Emperor stated:
Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. God is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death.

The first sentence of this quotation, when repeated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, led to a series of riots, firebombing of churches and a Fatwa against the life of the Pope (see Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy).

Enlightenment Europe

In Of the Standard of Taste, an essay by David Hume, the Qur’an is described as an "absurd performance" of a "pretended prophet" who lacked "a just sentiment of morals." Attending to the narration, Hume says, "we shall soon find, that [Muhammad] bestows praise on such instances of treachery, inhumanity, cruelty, revenge, bigotry, as are utterly incompatible with civilized society. No steady rule of right seems there to be attended to; and every action is blamed or praised, so far as it is beneficial or hurtful to the true believers."[30]

Truthfulness of Islam and Islamic scriptures


Reliability of the Qur'an

Muslims believe the Qur'an to be the perfect word of God, and as such it cannot contain any errors or contradictions, and must be perfectly compatible with science. Muslims believe it to be so perfect that readers must conclude it is of divine, rather than human, origin.

Critics argue that:

  • the Qur'an contains verses which are difficult to understand or contradictory.[31]
  • the Qur'an contains incorrect cosmological explanations.[32]
  • Some accounts of the history of Islam say there were two verses of the Qur'an that were allegedly added by Muhammad when he was tricked by Satan (in an incident known as the "Story of the Cranes", later referred to as the "Satanic Verses"). These verses were then retracted at angel Gabriel's behest.[33][34]


Hadith are Muslim traditions relating to the Sunna (words and deeds) of Muhammad. They are drawn from the writings of scholars writing between 844 and 874 CE, more than 200 years after the death of Mohammed in 632 CE.[35] In general, for Muslims the hadith are second only to the Qur'an in importance,[36] although some scholars put more emphasis on the perpetual adherence of Muslim nation to the traditions to give them credibility, and not solely on hadith.[37] Most of the knowledge about the life of Muhammad comes from the hadith, many of which were biographies of Mohammed. Many Islamic practices (such as the Five Pillars of Islam) are drawn from the hadith.

However, there is criticism of the historical reliability of hadith.

Within Islam, different schools and sects have different opinions on the proper selection and use of hadith. The four schools of Sunni Islam all consider hadith second only to the Qur'an, although they differ on how much freedom of interpretation should be allowed to legal scholars.[38] Shi'i scholars disagree with Sunni scholars as to which hadith should be considered reliable. The Shi'as accept the Sunna of Ali and the Imams as authoritative in addition to the Sunna of Muhammad, and as a consequence they maintain their own, different, collections of hadith.[39]

Lack of secondary evidence

The traditional view of Islam has also been criticised for the lack of supporting evidence consistent with that view, such as the lack of archaeological evidence, and discrepancies with non-Muslim literary sources.[40]



Muslims consider Muhammad to be the final prophet, the messenger of the final revelation that he called the Qur’an. Muslims believe that Muhammad is no more than a messenger, a warner and seal of Prophets. However, critics such as Koelle and Ibn Warraq, a former Muslim, see some of his actions as immoral.[4][5]

Another criticism is made by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who denounced Muhammad's marriage, at age 52, to six-year old Aisha, who was nine at the time the marriage was consummated.[41][42][43][44] When Muhammad had his first revelation from God, he was terrified, and even contemplated suicide (Ibn Ishaq: 106), and feared he may be possessed, as he told his first wife Khadija "woe is me poet or possessed" (Ibn Ishaq: 106).

Muhammad also made comments which may be considered to be Arab supremacism, such as when he claimed that "Arabs are the most noble people in lineage, the most prominent, and the best in deeds. We were the first to respond to the call of the Prophet. We are Allah's helpers and the viziers of His Messenger. We fight people until they believe in Allah. He who believes in Allah and His Messenger has protected his life and possessions from us. As for one who disbelieves, we will fight him forever in Allah's Cause. Killing him is a small matter to us" (Tabari IX:69).

Muhammad had an unstable relationship with the Jewish tribes of his time and disliked them, making the following anti-Semitic statement: "The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time [of judgment] will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!" (Sahih Muslim book 41, no. 6985). Once Muhammad had gained significant military and political power in Arabia, he stated that all the Jews and Christians were no longer allowed in Arabia, amounting to ‘religious cleansing’. His words clarifying this point were: "I will expel the Jews and the Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims".[45] He also stated that "whoever change[s] his Islamic religion, then kill him".[46]. Muhammad thus commanded the death penalty for apostasy.

Another hadith records Muhammad’s final words as: "There is a report narrated by Ahmad (1691) from the hadeeth of Abu ‘Ubaydah, who said that the last words that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) spoke were, "Expel the Jews of the Hijaaz and Najraan from the Arabian Peninsula, and know that the most evil of people are those who took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship" (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4463; Muslim, 2444).

A particularly controversial incident was the sanctioned torture by Muhammad of Kinana bin al-Rabi. When Muhammad and his warriors invaded Khaybar, they were set on claiming the wealth belonging to the many Jewish inhabitants. The treasurer for the local tribe – the Banu Nadir – was Kinana bin al-Rabi. Kinana was questioned by Muhammad about where the treasure was, and when he told Muhammad he did not know its location, Muhammad told him, "do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?", to which Kinana replied yes. When some of the treasure was found, Muhammad "gave orders concerning Kinanah to Zubayr, saying, 'Torture him until you root out and extract what he has. So Zubayr kindled a fire on Kinanah's chest, twirling it with his firestick until Kinanah was near death. Then the Messenger gave him to Maslamah, who beheaded him." (Ibn Ishaq: 515; Tabari VIII:122)

Muhammad also married Kinana bin al-Rabi’s wife, Safiyya bint Huyayy, on the same day he ordered for Kinana’s torture and execution. Originally, Muhammad’s companion Dihya was going to take Safiyya as a concubine with Muhammad’s permission (Bukhari 4: book 58: number 3169). However, since she was admired by Muhammad’s warriors, they told Muhammad that "she benefits none but you" (Bukhari 1: book 8: number 371). Muhammad then told Dihya to take another slave girl, and he freed Safiyya and married her since she agreed to convert to Islam, thus gaining a status above slavery.

Muhammad also acted brutally towards those who opposed him. Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Lahab, who opposed him was cursed by Muhammad. Muhammad said, "May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. He will burn in a Fire of flame."Template:Quran He also commanded that his follower were to assassinate a number of poets who opposed him. Abu ‘Afark was a Jewish man said to be over 100 years old. He was a political opponent of Muhammad, and criticized Muhammad in a poem for killing another one of his opponents. When Muhammad heard about this, he asked his followers, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?", to which Salim bin ‘Umayr agreed. He killed ‘Afark while he was sleeping (Ibn Ishaq: 675). ‘Asma bint Marwan was a poetess who wrote poems Muhammad deemed to be offensive. Once he was aware of this, Muhammad asked, "who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?", to which a Muslim named ‘Umayr bin ‘Adiy al-Khatmi agreed. That night, he killed ‘Asma bint Marwan and her unborn child. When ‘Umayr told Muhammad he was feeling guilty and worried he had committed a major sin, Muhammad told him, "You have helped God and his apostle, O ‘Umayr!", and that "two goats won’t butt their heads about her" (Ibn Ishaq: 676).

Another poet was one of the Banu Nadir's chiefs, Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf. Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf wrote a poetic eulogy commemorating the slain Quraish notables; later, he also wrote erotic poetry about Muslim women, which the Muslims found offensive.[47] This poetry influenced so many [48] that this too was considered directly against the Constitution of Medina which states, loyalty gives protection against treachery and this document will not (be employed to) protect one who is unjust or commits a crime. Muhammad called upon his followers to kill Ka'b. Muhammad ibn Maslama offered his services, collecting four others. By pretending to have turned against Muhammad, Muhammad ibn Maslama and the others enticed Ka'b out of his fortress on a moonlit night,[47] and killed him in spite of his vigorous resistance.[49] The Jews were terrified at his assassination, and as the historian Ibn Ishaq put it "...there was not a Jew who did not fear for his life".[50]

Another criticism of Muhammad was his marriage to his daughter-in-law, Zaynab bint Jahsh. Zayd was originally married to Muhammad’s adopted son, Zayd bin Haritha. After Zaynab’s marriage to Zayd, "Muhammad’s eye fell on her, and love for Zaynab budded in his heart".[51] This admiration increased after he walked in on her wearing only a chemise when he was looking for Zayd. Zaynab and Zayd were in a marriage that neither of them wanted, and Zayd, upon knowing about Muhammad’s admiration for Zaynab, requested a number of times that Muhammad allow him to separate from her. Muhammad would not allow it, so Zayd separated from her anyway. Later, Muhammad received a revelation from Allah that he could marry Zaynab (Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari) and later did so, with Allah’s permission.

Muhammad also broke the ten-year treaty (known as the treaty of Hudaybiyya) he had with the Quraysh tribe, after he refused to send Umm Kulthum – a woman who joined the Muslims in Medina – back to the Quraysh after her brothers requested it. He rationalized this by stating that the Muslims only had to return any free man from the Quraysh who came to them, not any slave or woman .[52] Muhammad definitively broke the treaty when he began accepting men from the Quraysh. (Ibn Ishaq: 511)

Muhammad is also criticized for the mass killing of the men of the Banu Qurayza, a Jewish tribe of Medina. The tribe was accused of having engaged in treasonous agreements with the enemies besieging Medina in the Battle of the Trench in 627.[53]. Ibn Ishaq writes that Muhammad approved the beheading of some 600-900 men who surrendered unconditionally after a siege that lasted several weeks.[54] (Also see Bukhari 5:59:362). The girls and women of the tribe were taken as slaves (Ibn Ishaq: 308).

Muhammad also referred to Black Ethiopians as having heads like "raisins" in the following hadith: "Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Apostle said, "You should listen to and obey, your ruler even if he was an Ethiopian (black) slave whose head looks like a raisin."[55]

Morality of the Qur'an

Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the literal word of God as recited to Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel. Criticism of the Qur'an generally consists of questioning traditional claims about the Qur'an's composition and content.

It is a central tenet of Islam that the Qur'an is perfect, so criticism of the Qur'an is considered criticism of Islam.

This is a list of critical arguments:

  • Critics argue that the Qur'anic verse 4:34 allows Muslim men to discipline their wives by striking them.[56] (There is however confusion amongst translations of Qur'an with the original Arabic term "wadribuhunna" being translated as "to go away from them",[57] "beat",[58] "strike lightly" and "separate".[59])
  • Critics claim that violence is implicit in the Qur'anic text, and that Islam itself, not just Islamism, promotes terrorism.[60][61]
  • The Qur'an is criticized for advocating the death penalty.[62]
  • Some critics argue that the Qur'an is incompatible with other religious scriptures, attacks and advocates hate against people of other religions.[6][6][63][64][65]
File:Rechtsgutachten betr Apostasie im Islam.jpg

Decision of a Fatwa committee on the case of a convert to Christianity: "Since he left Islam, he will be invited to express his regret. If he does not regret, he will be killed pertaining to rights and obligations of the Islamic law."

Hell and Damnation

Islam has been criticized as seeking to persuade people into accepting its authority through simple fear of punishment or, conversely, through hope of reward after death, rather than through rational argumentation or empirical evidence, and that those who do not obey Allah will perish in hell. For example, one verse reads: "Lo! Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. Lo! Allah is ever Mighty, Wise."Template:Quran Some claim that much of the Qur’an is written about hell: "there is no place in the Qur'an where Muhammad commands Muslims to love people of other religions. By contrast there are at least three dozen verses that tell Muslims to fight against non-Muslims and about 500 that speak of their place in Hell. They are from each period in Muhammad's life, scattered across 87 of the Qur'an's 114 chapters. To put this in perspective, nearly one out of twelve verses in the Qur'an says that Allah hates non-Muslims to the extent that he will torment them for eternity in horrible ways. The Suras that make reference to this comprise about 95% of the Qur'an's total volume."[66]

Muhammad also claimed that the majority of inhabitants in hell were women: "’O womenfolk, you should ask for forgiveness for I saw you in bulk amongst the dwellers of Hell.' A wise lady said: Why is it, Allah's Apostle, that women comprise the bulk of the inhabitants of Hell? The Prophet observed: 'You curse too much and are ungrateful to your spouses. You lack common sense, fail in religion and rob the wisdom of the wise.' Upon this the woman remarked: What is wrong with our common sense? The Prophet replied, 'Your lack of common sense can be determined from the fact that the evidence of two women is equal to one man. That is a proof.'" (Sahih Muslim, 1:142) "The Prophet said: 'I was shown the Hell Fire and the majority of its dwellers were women who are disbelievers or ungrateful.' When asked what they were ungrateful for, the Prophet answered, 'All the favors done for them by their husbands.'"(Bukhari 1:22:28).


Islamic law

Bernard Lewis summarizes:

The penalty for apostasy, in Islamic law, is death. Islam is conceived as a polity, not just as a religious community. It follows therefore that apostasy is treason. It is a withdrawal, a denial of allegiance as well as of religious belief and loyalty. Any sustained and principled opposition to the existing regime or order almost inevitably involves such a withdrawal.

The four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence, as well as Shi'a scholars, agree that a sane adult male apostate (if he doesn't repent) must be executed. A female apostate may be put to death, according to the majority view, or imprisoned until she repents, according to others.[68]

The Qur'an threatens apostate with punishment in the next world only, the historian W. Heffening states, the traditions however contain the element of death penalty. Muslim scholar Shafi'i interprets verse Template:Quran-usc as adducing the main evidence for the death penalty in Qur'an.[69] The historian Wael Hallaq states the later addition of death penalty "reflects a later reality and does not stand in accord with the deeds of the Prophet." He further states that "nothing in the law governing apostate and apostasy derives from the letter of the holy text."[70]

William Montgomery Watt, in response to a question about Western views of the Islamic Law as being cruel, states that "In Islamic teaching, such penalties may have been suitable for the age in which Muhammad lived. However, as societies have since progressed and become more peaceful and ordered, they are not suitable any longer."[71]

Some contemporary Islamic jurists from both the Sunni and Shi'a denominations together with Qur'an only Muslims have argued or issued fatwas that state that either the changing of religion is not punishable or is only punishable under restricted circumstances.[72][73][74][75][76][77] For example, Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri argues that no Qur'anic verse prescribes an earthly penalty for apostasy and adds that it is not improbable that the punishment was prescribed by Muhammad at early Islam due to political conspiracies against Islam and Muslims and not only because of changing the belief or expressing it. Montazeri defines different types of apostasy. He does not hold that a reversion of belief because of investigation and research is punishable by death but prescribes capital punishment for a desertion of Islam out of malice and enmity towards the Muslim.[78]

According to Yohanan Friedmann, an Israeli Islamic Studies scholar, a Muslim may stress tolerant elements of Islam (by for instance adopting the broadest interpretation of Qur'an 2:256 ("No compulsion is there in religion...") or the humanist approach attributed to Ibrahim al-Nakha'i), without necessarily denying the existence of other ideas in the Medieval Islamic tradition but rather discussing them in their historical context (by for example arguing that "civilizations comparable with the Islamic one, such as the Sassanids and the Byzantines, also punished apostasy with death. Similarly neither Judaism nor Christianity treated apostasy and apostates with any particular kindness").[79] Friedmann continues:

The real predicament facing modern Muslims with liberal convictions is not the existence of stern laws against apostasy in medieval Muslim books of law, but rather the fact that accusations of apostasy and demands to punish it are heard time and again from radical elements in the contemporary Islamic world.

Problems can arise when Westerners are convicted of a crime under sharia law. In Sudan, 2007, Gillian Gibbons was sent to prison for 15 days after being convicted of "inciting religious hatred for letting her pupils name a teddy bear Mohamed." Gibbons "escaped a sentence of 40 lashes after apologising to the court for any offence she had caused."[80]

Human rights conventions

Some widely held interpretations of Islam are inconsistent with Human Rights conventions that recognize the right to change religion.[81][82]

In particular article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[83] states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

To implement this, Article 18 (2) of the ICCPR states:

No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion of his choice.

The right for Muslims to change their religion is not afforded by the Iranian Shari'ah law, which specifically forbids it.[81][82][84]

Muslim countries such as Sudan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, have the death penalty for apostasy from Islam.[85]

These countries have criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for its perceived failure to take into account the cultural and religious context of non-Western countries.

In 1990, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference published a separate Cairo Declaration of Human Rights compliant with Shari'ah.[86] Although granting many of the rights in the UN declaration, it does not grant Muslims the right to convert to other religions, and restricts freedom of speech to those expressions of it that are not in contravention of the Islamic law.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami,[87] wrote a book called Human Rights in Islam,[88] in which he argues that respect for human rights has always been enshrined in Sharia law (indeed that the roots of these rights are to be found in Islamic doctrine)[89] and criticizes Western notions that there is an inherent contradiction between the two.[90] Western scholars have, for the most part, rejected Maududi's analysis.[91][92][93]


Many have said that "women are not treated as equal members" of Muslim societies[8] and have criticized Islam for condoning this treatment.[9] In Jantho, Indonesia, two women were found guilty of selling food during fasting hours in Ramadan and each received lashes for violating sharia law.[94][95] In Saudi Arabia, 15 schoolgirls died in a fire and more than 50 were seriously injured because the mutaween, or religious police, blocked fire-fighters from entering the building because the girls were not wearing headscarves and abayas.[96]

The term "Muslim apartheid" has been used to highlight religious isolation in France as well as gender segregation practices.[97][98]

The Catholic Church has warned Christian women about marrying Muslim men because of the "inferior" status of women in Muslim countries and the nonexistence of maternal rights to children.[99]

Critics of Islam also point out that under sharia law, men are favored over women. Men are able to practice polygamy, as prescribed by the Qur’an: "If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with orphans, marry women of your choice who seem good to you, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to do justice (to so many), then only one, or (a slave) that you possess, that will be more suitable. And give the women their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, eat it with enjoyment, take it with right good cheer and absorb it (in your wealth)."Template:Quran Another example of men being favoured over women is that in a sharia court, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of the man: "And get two witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women [a man is worth two women, and one man is always needed], such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her."Template:Quran Women under sharia also receive half the inheritance a male receives: "Allah directs you in regard of your Children's (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females.... These are settled portions ordained by Allah."Template:Quran

The emphasis on a woman’s alleged lesser intelligence has also been criticized. For example, Muhammad referred to women as “deficient” in intelligence: "Once Allah’s Apostle went out to Musalla (to offer prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al- Fitr prayer. Then he passed by a woman and said, "O woman! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)…. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence" (Bukhari, Vol. 1, Bk. 6, No. 301: Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri).

The Hadith further reinforces this teaching in the inadequacy of a woman’s intellect as follows: "The Prophet said, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind." (Bukhari, Vol. 3, Bk. 48, No. 826). "Allah said, 'It is My obligation to make Eve bleed once every month as she made this tree bleed. I must also make Eve stupid, although I created her intelligent.' Because Allah afflicted Eve, all of the women of this world menstruate and are stupid" (Tabari I: 280).

There has also been some controversy surrounding apparent instruction from Allah for husbands to beat their wives, such as: "Allah permits you to shut them in separate rooms and to beat them, but not severely. If they abstain, they have the right to food and clothing. Treat women well for they are like domestic animals and they possess nothing themselves. Allah has made the enjoyment of their bodies lawful in his Qur'an." (Tabari IX:113)


Critics such as Muslim lesbian activist Irshad Manji,[100] former Muslims Ehsan Jami and the Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, have criticized Islam's attitudes towards homosexuals. Most international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, condemn Islamic laws that make homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime. Since 1994 the United Nations Human Rights Committee has also ruled that such laws violated the right to privacy guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

However most Muslim nations insist that such laws are necessary to preserve Islamic morality and virtue.[101] In May 2008, the sexual rights lobby group Lambda Istanbul (based in Istanbul, Turkey) was banned by court order for violating a constitutional provision on the protection of the family and an article banning bodies with objectives that violate law and morality.[102]

Violence and Intolerance towards critics of Islam

Despite claims that the sources of Islam demand it to be a "Religion of peace" with violence being regulated by laws of Jihad, Islam has been criticised for its followers exhibiting intolerance and violence towards critics (often viewed as being pejorative of Islam and its Prophet[103]).


When the Egyptian Prime Minister disbanded the influential Muslim Brotherhood, he was assassinated in late 1948. Following the assassination, the founder of the Brotherhood promptly released a statement condemning the assassination, stating that terror is not an acceptable way in Islam. This in turn led to his assassination in early 1949.

21st century

According to Islamic scholar Khaleel Mohammed, throughout the world, Muslim intellectuals are punished for criticizing some aspects of traditional and contemporary Islam. He cited the case of Muhammad Said al-Ashmawy being held in Egypt is under house arrest for his own protection; Abdel Karim Soroush who was beaten in Iran for raising the voice of inquiry, Mahmoud Taha who was killed in Sudan. Mohammed claims that Scholars Rifat Hassan, Fatima Mernissi, Abdallah an-Na'im, Mohammed Arkoun and Amina Wadud were all vilified by the imams for asking Muslims to use their intellects.[104]

In one example, Hashem Aghajari, an Iranian university professor, was initially sentenced to death because of a speech that criticized some of the present Islamic practices in Iran being in contradiction with the original practices and ideology of Islam, and particularly for stating that Muslims were not "monkeys" and "should not blindly follow" the clerics. The sentence was later commuted to three years in jail, and he was released in 2004 after serving two years of that sentence.[105][106][107]

  • In recent times fatwas calling for execution have been issued against author Salman Rushdie and activist Taslima Nasreen for pejorative comments on Islam.[108]
  • On November 2, 2004, Dutch Filmmaker Theo van Gogh was assassinated by Dutch born Mohammed Bouyeri for producing the 10 minute film Submission critical of the abusive treatment of women by Muslims. A letter threatening the author of the screenplay, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was pinned to his body by a knife. Hirsi Ali entered into hiding immediately following the assassination.[109]
  • On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published editorial cartoons, many of which caricatured the Islamic prophet Mohammed. The publication was intended to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship;[110] objectives which manifested themselves in the public outcry from Muslim communities within Denmark and the subsequent apology by the paper. However, the controversy deepened when further examples of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries. This led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence, including setting fire to the Norwegian and Danish Embassies in Syria, and the storming of European buildings and desecration of the Danish and German flags in Gaza City.[111] Globally, at least 139 people were killed and 823 injured.[112]
  • On September 19, 2006 French writer and philosophy teacher Robert Redeker wrote an editorial for Le Figaro, a French conservative newspaper, in which he attacked Islam and Muhammad, writing: "Pitiless war leader, pillager, butcher of Jews and polygamous, this is how Mohammed is revealed by the Qur'an"; he received death threats and went into hiding.[113]
  • On 4 August 2007, Ehsan Jami was attacked in his hometown Voorburg, in The Netherlands, by three men. The attack is widely believed to be linked to his activities for the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims. The national anti-terrorism coordinator's office, the public prosecution department and the police decided during a meeting on 6 August that "additional measures" were necessary for the protection of Jami who has subsequently received extra security.[114]
  • In Austria 2009, politician Susanne Winters was "convicted …of incitement because of her anti-Muslim statements….A court in Winter’s home town of Graz also found the 51-year-old politician guilty of humiliating a religion. She was sentenced to a fine of 24,000 euros (31,000 dollars) and a suspended prison term of three months"[115] One of her statements was a reference to paedophilia, where she said that Mohammed's marriage to a 6-year-old girl would make the prophet a "pedophile in today's system."[116]
  • In 2009, a resolution prepared by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference called upon all UN nations to adopt legislation banning the "defamation" of religion. This was motivated by the Muhammad cartoons published in Denmark which these nations argued offended Islam. It was opposed by the United States, most European nations, Japan, India, and a number of other nations.[117]
  • Palestinian Facebook blogger Walid Husayin is now in jail after he posted pro-atheist comments and claimed he was God (November 2010). In the Palestinian Authority, insulting religion is considered illegal and where-according to Husayin’s online blogs –Muslims "believe anyone who leaves Islam is an agent or a spy for a Western State, namely the Jewish State."[118] Hasayin was arrested,and "now faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for "insulting the divine essence." Many in [the] conservative Muslim town say that isn't enough, and suggested he should be killed for renouncing Islam. Even family members say he should remain behind bars for life. "He should be burned to death," said Abdul-Latif Dahoud, a 35-year-old Qalqiliya resident. The execution should take place in public "to be an example to others," he added."[119]
  • On November 10, 2010, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman from Pakistan, was sentenced to death by hanging under the anti-blasphemy law, which rights groups protested to. The details of the case go back to June 2009, "when she was asked to fetch water while working in the fields. But a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying as a non-Muslim, she should not touch the water bowl. A few days later, the women told a local cleric Ms. Asia made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad."[120]
  • On November 23, 2010 in Vienna, Austrian woman Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff will be going on trial for allegedly "inciting hatred against a religious group" and for "defamation of religion". If she is convicted, she could spend up to three years in prison. Sabaditsch-Wolff says that, "Bishops, rabbis, politicians, all of whom had never attended any of my seminars and knew nothing of the content, were asked to weigh in and condemn me. The bishop said, 'One must never speak about any religion the way Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff did about Islam.' This was especially painful for me."[121] Sabaditsch-Wolff is particularly concerned "that the EU would accept sharia law in Great Britain; since Britain is a member of the EU, it [sharia law] is basically now in force in Europe." She believes this is "outrageous".[122]

Self-Censorship around Islam

The fear of criticizing Islam and offending Muslims has led to some concerns around self-censorship.[123] Some writers, such as Bruce Bawer, argue that while the media allows open criticism of other religions, Islam often receives immunity from any criticism frequently targeted at other religions and other topics.[124]

  • Historian Will Durant refers to the Islamic invasion of India as "probably the bloodiest story in history",[125]Template:Rp and contends that Islam spread through India with violence.[126]Template:Rp[127] Historian Koenraad Elst makes the case in his book “Negationism in India: Concealing the Record of Islam” that during the Islamic conquest of India, the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million, but Indian history conceals this fact out of fear of criticizing Islam.[128]Template:Rp Sir Jadunath Sarkar contends that that several Muslim invaders were waging a systematic jihad against Hindus in India to the effect that "every device short of massacre in cold blood was resorted to in order to convert heathen subjects."[129]
  • The film 2012 depicts landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica of the Vatican and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro being destroyed, but director Roland Emmerich refused to show the Kaaba being destroyed out of fears of having a “fatwa on [his] head”.[130] The proposal by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference at the United Nations to of making any criticism of Islam illegal has proved controversial.[131]
  • Comedian Penn Jillette, one of the presenters of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! admitted in 2010 that he would not criticize Islam on his show - despite doing a show critiquing Christianity - “because we have families”.[132]
  • Iranian-born Dutch artist Sooreh Hera, who took photographs of gay men wearing masks of Muhammad, received death threats and was forced into hiding. The museum removed her work, with Hera arguing that the museum director “gave in to pressure from the Islamists. It is censorship.” [133]
  • British artist Grayson Perry has stated that he censors himself when it comes to portraying Islam. He has portrayed other religions, however, and one of his exhibits was "a teddy bear being born from a penis as the Virgin Mary". Perry says that "the reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat." [134]
  • In Batley, West Yorkshire, England, head teacher Barbara Harris of Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School removed the story The Three Little Pigs from the classroom to avoid offending Muslim children, although copies remain in the library.[135] More recently in Britain, a remake of the story of The Three Little Pigs re-telling the classic story, was rejected a government agency award panel "as the subject matter could offend Muslims", and "the use of pigs raises cultural issues".[136]

Violence and Intolerance towards other Religions

  • On March 24, 2005, Saudi authorities destroyed religious items found in a raid on a makeshift Hindu shrine found in an apartment in Riyadh.[137] In strict Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, there is no religious freedom,[138] and people practicing other religions may face persecution.
  • Non-Muslims living in strict Islamic countries have to pay an additional tax – known as Jizya. Some argue that "the collection of the jizya occurs at a ceremony that is designed to emphasize the subordinate status of the non-Muslims."[139]
  • There is concern that school textbooks are being used to indoctrinate children in some Islamic countries. School textbooks in Saudi Arabia, despite earlier claims to the contrary, continuing to indoctrinate children with messages of hate and intolerance towards non-Muslims, particularly Jews and Christians. For example, "an eighth grade text equates Jews with 'apes' and Christian infidels with 'swine'. A tenth grade text teaches that the life of a Muslim is worth twice that of a non-Muslim", and "It's taught that Christians and Jews are the enemy of the Muslim… [and] that the Muslim must wage jihad in order to spread the faith in battle against the infidel".[140] Similar concerns have emerged from Pakistan, where school textbooks are still believed to teach intolerance toward Hindus. The textbooks contain comments such as the "forefathers of Hinduism [being] fond of gambling, drinking and dancing ...the foundation of Hindu set up was based on injustice and cruelty", and accusations that, during the 19th century, "the Hindu racists were not only against Muslims but also against all other minorities ..." The book charges Hindus and Sikhs practised ethnic cleansing during partition in 1947 when India and Pakistan were carved out of British India and became independent states.[141]
  • On 28 August 2009, a group of Malaysian Muslims staged a protest against the proposal that a Hindu shrine be relocated to a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. The 50 or so protestors marched from a mosque to the Malaysian government headquarters with the head of a cow – an animal deemed sacred in Hinduism – and "stomped on the head and spat on it before leaving the site".[142] Malaysia’s Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein defended the protest, arguing that building a Hindu shrine is unsuitable because the neighborhood is Muslim, and that “the residents only wanted their voices to be heard [and] it was unfortunate that 'the publicity they received was negative because it was linked with racial and religious sentiments.'"[143] (See also:Cow head protests)
  • In December 2009, three Muslim students who attended the East Preston Islamic College in Melbourne, Australia, defaced a copy of the Holy Bible. "The main perpetrator (a Year 7 student) urinated on the Holy Bible, tore some pages from the Holy Book and burnt them then finally spat on the Holy Book," the report says. The second boy, from Year 9, "tore pages from the Holy Book and burnt them", while a third student, from Year 7, "tore pages from the Holy Bible and then he rolled it up like a cigarette and pretended to smoke it".[144]
  • In January 2010 in Malaysia, nine churches[145] were burnt by Muslim groups who were outraged at "the court's move to overturn a government prohibition on the use of Allah by Christians when using the Malay language".[146] The decision divided Muslim groups in Malaysia; "some major Muslim organisations, including the Islamic political party, PAS, have agreed with the court, saying other Abrahamic religions - Christianity and Judiasm - may use the word. But some vocal groups, including the Muslim Youth Movement, Abim, have cast the use of the word Allah as a surreptitious effort on the part of Christians to try to seduce Muslims away from Islam."[147]

Islam's influence on the ability of Muslim immigrants in the West to assimilate

The immigration of Muslims to European countries has increased greatly in recent decades, and frictions have developed between these new neighbours. Conservative Muslim social attitudes on modern issues have caused much controversy in Europe and elsewhere, and scholars argue about how much these attitudes are a result of Islamic beliefs.[148] Others argue that Western democratic values and freedoms are being given away to appease Islam, and grant Islam privileges not granted to other religions or community groups, resulting in deeper division.[149] For example, in the Netherlands, Fortis Bank has dropped Knorbert the piglet as its mascot "after it decided to stop giving piggy banks to children for fear of offending Muslims."[150] Similarly, at least two British banks, Halifax and NatWest have banned piggy banks to avoid the possibility of offending Muslims.[151] Some Female Muslim doctors and nurses in England are able to be exempt from following strict hygiene standards that have been implemented by the Department of Health (DOH) to avoid the spread of superbugs, as some Muslim women have objected to exposing their arms below the elbow. The DOH have also relaxed rules so that Sikhs can wear jewellery.[152] In Minneapolis, some Somali taxi drivers refused to carry passengers with alcohol due to religious beliefs, inconveniencing travellers.[153] In Orlando, Florida, a woman was fired from her job at Rising Star after eating a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, "because pork and pork products were not permissible on company premises". However, "by the company's own admission to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, that policy [was] not written".[154] In Grozny, Russia, the Muslim leader of the Chechnya region ordered that all cafés be closed down during the month of Ramadan, because the leader thinks that they "can't have smells wafting through the streets and teasing the hungry." This move outraged non-Muslims, saying that it is in violation of Russian law.[155][156] In 2008, David Toube and son were disallowed entry to the Clissold Leisure Centre in Stoke Newington, north London because the pool was running a Muslim men only session. When Toube asked for an explanation from the employees, the "explanation was that it was a requirement of the Muslim religion that Muslims could not swim with non-Muslims."[157] The Thornley Heath leisure centre in Croydon, London also caused a controversy when it announced it would be running Muslim men only pool sessions on Sunday afternoons. Non-Muslims could "swim during this time but only if they follow the strict dress code of swimming shorts that hide the navel and extend below the knee." Women were forbidden.[158] In 2007, a male Belgian anesthetist was blocked from entering the operating theatre when his female Muslim patient’s husband blocked the door and demanded a female anesthetist. The woman needed an emergency cesarean. No resolution could be found after a 2 hour discussion, so "an imam was summoned. The imam permitted the doctor to apply an epidural injection, but only if the woman was fully covered with only a small area of skin showing". The anesthetist then had to shout instructions to a nurse who was monitoring the anesthesia from outside the room. The nurse had to be called in the middle of the night to attend the surgery. The surgeon later made a complaint against the man.[159] In 2007, "a hair salon owner is being sued for religious discrimination after refusing a Muslim teenager a job as a stylist because she wore a headscarf. Sarah Desrosiers said she refused 19-year-old Bushra Noah the position because it was an "absolutely basic" requirement that customers could see their stylist's hair.".[160]In Cambuslang, near Glasgow, Scotland, the bakery company Greggs has installed a Muslims-only toilet at their new Scottish headquarters - "despite the fact that no Muslims work there", and it seems the toilets have been built in preparation for Muslim employment. In August, "bosses at two Scottish NHS boards had banned staff from eating at their desks to avoid offending Muslims during Ramadan."[161]

There is also a growing concern of Islamism in Britain, where Muslims are immigrating with no intention of integrating, reject secular law, and want more sharia law to be implemented.[162] In The United Kingdom there are currently 85 sharia courts operating to deal with civil matters[163] and there are also sharia courts in Canada. Critics argue that "the rights of women are being sacrificed for the sake of multiculturalism"[164] In 2008, Dispatches produced a documentary called Undercover Mosque which collated undercover footage of preaching within a number of London mosques. Some of the footage included hateful comments by radical leaders directed at adulterers, homosexuals, and non-Muslims. Messages of separatism were also preached.[165]

Some critics consider Islam to be incompatible with secular Western society;[166] their criticism has been partly influenced by a stance against multiculturalism advocated by recent philosophers, closely linked to the heritage of New Philosophers. Fiery polemic on the subject by proponents like Pascal Bruckner,[167] and Paul Cliteur has kindled international debate.[168] They hold multiculturalism to be an invention of an "enlightened" elite who deny the benefits of democratic rights to non-Westerners by chaining them to their roots. They claim this allows Islam free rein to propagate abuses such as the mistreatment of women and homosexuals, and in some countries slavery. They also claim that multiculturalism allows a degree of religious freedom[169] that exceeds what is needed for personal religious freedom[170] and is conducive to the creation of organizations aimed at undermining European secular or Christian values. This tendency to focus criticism of Islam on politics and the non-European identity of its traditions triggered a new debate on Islamophobia.[148]

Cultural Jihad

The resistance by some Muslims to assimilate has been called "cultural jihad". Dr.Zuhdi Jasser defines "cultural jihad" as a process where "these Islamists use, in a most duplicitous way, the laws and the rights they are given in our society to try to work against society and overthrow it." [171]

In Canada, "a newly released intelligence report says hard-line Islamist groups [the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb-ut-Tahrir] want to build a "parallel society... which could undermine the country's social cohesion and foster violence", where they encourage Muslims to "self-imposed isolation." The report states that "Islamist social ideology appears to have gone unstudied, precisely because the use of violence is either unsupported or understated. "Nevertheless, several Islamist movements advocate a rejection of Western society and mores, and encourage self-imposed isolation of Muslims in the West."[172] Similar documents have also surfaced in Switzerland and North America. The general goals and strategic plans of the [Muslim Brotherhood] are only found in Arabic documents. One for Europe called "The Project" was found in 2001 in Switzerland, another for North America was found in 2005 called the "General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America."[173] An evaluation of this Memorandum was made for the US-Congress and for the Pentagon.[174] Their influence is fast growing, especially in Europe, but not easy to trace while the active members have to keep their membership secret. One citation from the document "General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America"[175] makes the objectives of the MB clear:

"The process of settlement is a 'Civilization-Jihadist Process' with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

Comparison with Communism and Fascist ideologies

In 2004, speaking to the Acton Institute on the problems of "secular democracy", Cardinal George Pell drew a parallel between Islam and Communism: "Islam may provide in the 21st century, the attraction that communism provided in the 20th, both for those that are alienated and embittered on the one hand and for those who seek order or justice on the other."[176] Pell also agrees in another speech that its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited.[177] An Australian Islamist spokesman, Keysar Trad, responded to the criticism: "Communism is a godless system, a system that in fact persecutes faith".[178]

Writers like Stephen Schwartz[179] and Christopher Hitchens,[180] describe Islamist attributes similar to Fascism. Malise Ruthven, a Scottish writer and historian who focuses his work on religion and Islamic affairs, opposes redefining Islamism as `Islamofascism`, but also finds the resemblances between the two ideologies "compelling".[181]

Destruction of art

Islam has been criticised for its negative attitude towards depictions of people in art.[182] Critics claim that this alleged antagonism towards the representation of the human figure has resulted in the destruction of such icons as the Buddhas of Bamyan,[183] the nose of the Great Sphinx of Giza, which "has suffered severely from weathering...Man has been responsible for additional mutilation. In 1380 A.D. the Sphinx fell victim to the iconoclastic ardor of a fanatical ruler, who caused deplorable injuries to the head. Then the figure was used as a target for the guns of the Mamluks",[184] and its face, which "was further disfigured by the eighteenth century A.D. ruler of Egypt, the Marmalukes [Mamluks]",[185][186] and mosaics in the Hagia Sophia.[187]

Responses to criticism

  • John Esposito has written many introductory texts on Islam and the Islamic world. For example, he has addressed issues like the rise of militant Islam, the veiling of women, and democracy.[188][189] Esposito emphatically argues against what he calls the "pan-Islamic myth". He thinks that "too often coverage of Islam and the Muslim world assumes the existence of a monolithic Islam in which all Muslims are the same." To him, such a view is naive and unjustifiably obscures important divisions and differences in the Muslim world.[190]
  • William Montgomery Watt who in his book Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman addresses Muhammad’s alleged moral failings. He claims that “Of all the world's great men none has been so much maligned as Muhammad.” Watt argues on a basis of moral relativism that Muhammad should be judged by the standards of his own time and country rather than "by those of the most enlightened opinion in the West today."[42]
  • Karen Armstrong, tracing what she believes to be the West's long history of hostility toward Islam, finds in Muhammad’s teachings a theology of peace and tolerance. Armstrong holds that the "holy war" urged by the Qur'an alludes to each Muslim's duty to fight for a just, decent society.[191]
  • Edward Said, in his essay Islam Through Western Eyes, stated that the general basis of Orientalist thought forms a study structure in which Islam is placed in an inferior position as an object of study. He claims the existence of a very considerable bias in Orientalist writings as a consequence of the scholars' cultural make-up. He claims Islam has been looked at with a particular hostility and fear due to many obvious religious, psychological and political reasons, all deriving from a sense "that so far as the West is concerned, Islam represents not only a formidable competitor but also a late-coming challenge to Christianity."[192]
  • Cathy Young of Reason Magazine claimed that the growing trend of anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim sentiment stemmed from an atmosphere where such criticism is popular. While stating that the terms "Islamophobia" and "anti-Muslim bigotry" are often used in response to legitimate criticism of fundamentalist Islam and problems within Muslim culture, she claimed "the real thing does exist, and it frequently takes the cover of anti-jihadism."[193]
  • Deepa Kumar, the author of Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike, in her article titled 'Fighting Islamophobia: A Response to Critics' says "The history of Islam is no more violent than the history of any of the other major religions of the world. Perhaps my critics haven't heard of the Crusades -- the religious wars fought by European Christians from the 11th to the 13th centuries" referring to the brutality of the crusades and then contrasting them to forbidding of acts of vengeance and violence by the Sultan of Egypt Saladin, after he successfully retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders. Speaking on the Danish Muhammad cartoon controversy (which resulted in more than 100 deaths, all together),[194] she says "The Danish cartoon of the prophet Mohammed with a bomb on his head is nothing if not the visual depiction of the racist diatribe that Islam is inherently violent. To those who can't understand why this argument is racist, let me be clear: when you take the actions of a few people and generalize it to an entire group -- all Muslims, all Arabs -- that's racism. When a whole group of people are discriminated against and demonized because of their religion or regional origin, that's racism." And "...Arabs and Muslims are being scapegoated and demonized to justify a war that is ruining the lives of millions."[195]


Late 19th and Early 20th Century Critics

During the late 19th and early 20th century, the new methods of Higher criticism were applied to the Qu'ran, claiming that it had a non-divine origin. Ignaz Goldziher and Henri Corbin wrote about the influence of Zoroastrianism, and others wrote on the influence of Judaism, Christianity and Sabianism.[196]

Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister through most of World War II, criticized what he alleged to be of the effects Islam had on its believers. He stated in his 1899 book The River War:[197]

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

Contemporary critics

  • Robert Spencer, an American writer on Islam. He is the author of six books, on topics related to Islam and terrorism. He is the founder and director of the Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch websites that focus on Islamist terrorism-related events and various Jihad-activity worldwide.[198]
  • Daniel Pipes, an American historian and analyst who specializes in the Middle East.
  • Fr. Zakaria Botros is a Coptic Priest and a strong critic of Islam, Qur'an and Muhammad. Fr. Zakaria is the author of several books and has a TV program that is broadcasted throughout the Middle East.
  • Bat Ye'or, an Egyptian-born British historian[199] and scholar[200] specialising in the history of non-Muslims in the Middle East, and in particular the history of Christian and Jewish dhimmis living under Islamic governments.[201]
  • V. S. Naipaul, a Nobel prize winning, Trinidadian-born British novelist of Hindu heritage, who has sowed controversy with his criticism of Islam. He claims it has had a "calamitous effect on converted peoples", destroying their ancestral culture and history.[202]
  • Brigitte Gabriel, founder of American Congress For Truth and author of Because They Hate.
  • Oriana Fallaci, an Italian journalist and novelist who has written three short books after the events of September the 11th advancing the argument that the "Western world is in danger of being engulfed by radical Islam". Two of them, The Rage and The Pride and The Force of Reason have been translated into English by Fallaci.[203]
  • Right-wing European and American politicians and commentators such as Tom Tancredo, Nick Griffin, Philippe de Villiers, Pia Kjærsgaard, Susanne Winter, Anne Coulter, Michael Savage, and Laura Schlessinger
  • Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who wants to ban the Qu'ran in the Netherlands, because it conflicts with the Dutch laws and calls for violence in general.[citation needed]
  • Bloggers including Hugh Fitzgerald, Lawrence Auster, Fjordman

Several scholars do not self-identify as critics of Islam but criticize some of its aspects:

  • Benny Morris, is an Israeli historian. He views the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a facet of a global clash of civilizations between Islamic fundamentalism and the Western World, saying that "There is a deep problem in Islam. It's a world whose values are different. A world in which human life doesn't have the same value as it does in the West, in which freedom, democracy, openness and creativity are alien."[citation needed]
  • Bernard Lewis holds that unbelievers, slaves, and women are considered fundamentally inferior to other groups of people under Islamic law.[citation needed]
  • Patricia Crone, is a scholar, author and historian of early Islamic history working at the Institute for Advanced Study. She co-authored the controversial Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World, a book that researched the early history of Islam, coming to conclusions at variance with the traditional view.[citation needed]
  • Warner Todd Huston, a prominent American blogger who has drawn criticism for arguing that Islam should be banned in the United States[204] and for writing on the website of Illinois Senate Candidate Alan Keyes that "the only true solution is that millions of Muslims must be killed and the sooner the better it will be for the whole world. Not because Jews are somehow perfect or that Muslims just plain 'need killing,' but because Islam is so patently evil and needs to be defeated!"[205]

Ravi Singh is author of www.jhatka.org is strong critic of Islamic Meat Slaughtering Halal and particularly against forcing it to non-Muslims. Jhatka is Traditional Indian method of Slaughtering, that Ravi is re-popularizing.His organization has filed petition against compulsory Halal in Parliament of India. Though Ravi supports appreciates Islamic rituals but criticizes Halal, specially by produced by illegal and unorganized sector as unhygienic.


  • Michel Onfray, a French philosopher and atheist. Onfray attacks Islam and other monotheistic religions, speaking of "Muslim fascism" that has risen with the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and considers Islamic teachings to be "structurally archaic".[206]
  • Richard Dawkins, an outspoken antireligionist, atheist, secular humanist, and skeptic, and a supporter of the Brights movement.[207]
  • Sam Harris, author of the bestselling book The End of Faith, argues that Muslim extremism is simply a consequence of taking the Qur'an literally, and is skeptical that moderate Islam is possible.[208]
  • Christopher Hitchens, a writer and critic of religion, has described Islamism as "fascism with an Islamic face".
  • Richard Carrier, a philosopher and ancient historian, frequently criticizes Islam in his writings on the Secular Web.[32]
  • Pat Condell, a stand-up comedian and writer who criticizes religion, including Islam, on Youtube.

Evangelical Christians

  • Pat Robertson, who expresses the view that "Islam wants to take over the world and is not a religion of peace", and that radical Muslims are "satanic", and that Osama Bin Laden was a "true follower of Muhammad".[209]
  • Jerry Falwell, another American conservative Baptist minister, characterized the prophet Muhammad as being a 'terrorist'.[210]
  • Franklin Graham who described Islam as an 'evil and wicked religion' and suggested that those who believed Islam to be "wonderful" should "go and live under the Taliban somewhere".[211]
  • Ted Haggard, former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals and former pastor of New Life Church, has stated "the sinister spirit of violence and hatred that inflames so many fundamentalist Muslims is indeed the attitude taught in the Quran." [7]
  • R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who described the Islamic theology as false and destructive and believes that Muslims are motivated by demonic power.[212]
  • Other evangelical critics of Islam include Rod Parsley, Bill Keller, John Hagee, David Wood[213] and Sam Shamoun.

Former Muslims

There are also outspoken former Muslims who believe that Islam is the primary cause of what they see as the mistreatment of minority groups in Muslim countries and communities. Almost all of them now live in the West, many under assumed names as they have had death threats made against them by Islamic groups and individuals.

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has focused on the rights of Muslim women, saying that "they aspire to live by their faith as best they can, but their faith robs them of their rights."[214]
  • Taslima Nasrin, is a Bengali/Bangladeshi ex-physician turned feminist author. She is a severe critic of Islam and of religion in general, who describes herself as a secular humanist.
  • Magdi Allam, an outspoken Egyptian-born Italian journalist who describes Islam as intrinsically violent and characterised by “hate and intolerance”.[215] He converted to Catholicism and was baptised by Pope Benedict XVI during an Easter Vigil service on March 23, 2008.
  • Nonie Darwish, a Coptic Christian, who founded the pro-Israel web site Arabs for Israel and stated that "Islam is more than a religion, it is a totalitarian state".[216] She is also the author of Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.
  • Nyamko Sabuni, who is the Minister of Integration and Gender Equality in Sweden and advocates banning the veil and establishing compulsory gynecological examinations for schoolgirls to guard against female genital mutilation, stating, "I will never accept that women and girls are oppressed in the name of religion" and declaring it is not her intent to reform Islam but only to denounce "unacceptable" practices. She has received death threats, requiring 24-hour police protection, for her views.[217]
  • Zachariah Anani, a former Sunni Muslim Lebanese militia fighter. Anani said that Islamic doctrine teaches nothing less than the "ambushing, seizing and slaying" of non-believers, especially Jews and Christians.[218]
  • Khalid Duran, a specialist in the history, sociology and politics of the Islamic world, who coined the term "Islamofascism" to describe the push by some Islamist clerics to "impose religious orthodoxy on the state and the citizenry".[219]
  • Ehsan Jami, a Dutch politician who criticized Islamic prophet Muhammad, describing him as a "criminal".[citation needed]
  • Maryam Namazie, a Communist activist and the leader of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.[220]
  • Anwar Shaikh, who has written several books exposing and criticising Islam.
  • Walid Shoebat, a former member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation who took part in terrorist attacks against Israeli targets.[221] He stated that "Secular dogma like Nazism is less dangerous than Islamofascism that we see today ... because Islamofascism has a religious twist to it; it says 'God the Almighty ordered you to do this.' It is trying to grow itself in fifty-five Muslim states. So potentially, you could have a success rate of several Nazi Germanys, if these people get their way."[222]
  • Ibn Warraq, a secularist author, intellectual, scholar and founder of the Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society and a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry[223][224][225] specializing in Qur'anic criticism.[226][227]
  • Wafa Sultan, who has pointed out that the prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and his Messenger." Sultan has called on Islamic teachers to review their writings and teachings and remove every call to fight people who do not believe as Muslims.[228] Dr. Sultan is now in hiding, fearing for her life and the safety of her family after appearing on the al-Jazeera TV show.[229]
  • Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of an Hamas founder and former Israeli spy, has stated "the biggest terrorist is the God of the Qur'an."[citation needed] He has written Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices.


  • Irshad Manji, a Canadian journalist and author of The Trouble with Islam Today.[230]
  • Ahmed H. al-Rahim, founder of American Islamic Congress, who says that the Mosques in America are teaching values of hate and not peace.[231]

See also

  • Criticism of Atheism
  • Criticism of Buddhism
  • Criticism of Catholicism
  • Criticism of Christianity
  • Criticism of Hinduism
  • Criticism of Judaism
  • Criticism of Religion
  • List of Muslim reformers

External links

Sites critical of Islam

Responses to criticism

Q and A websites


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  • Cohen, Mark R. (1995). Under Crescent and Cross. Princeton University Press; Reissue edition. ISBN 978-0691010823.
  • Lockman, Zachary (2004). Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521629379.
  • Rippin, Andrew (2001). Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (2nd ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-0415217811.
  • Westerlund, David (2003). "Ahmed Deedat's Theology of Religion: Apologetics through Polemics". Journal of Religion in Africa 33 (3).>

Further reading

  • The miracle and challenge of the Qur'an
  • The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spencer
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades) by Robert Spencer
  • Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum - (THE SEALED NECTAR) Memoirs of the Noble Prophet by Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri.
  • Onward Muslim Soldiers by Robert Spencer
  • The Legacy of Jihad by Andrew G. Bostom
  • Who Wrote the Qur'an?
  • Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide by Bat Ye'or
  • Decline of Eastern Christianity: From Jihad to Dhimmitude by Bat Ye'or
  • The Al Qaeda Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime, And the Coming Apocalypse by Paul L. Williams
  • http://www.themodernreligion.com/basic/quran/quran-amazing.html The Amazing Qur'an by Gary Miller
  • An Autumn of War: What America Learned from September 11 and the War on Terrorism by Victor Davis Hanson
  • Arabs and Israel - Conflict or Conciliation? by Sheikh Ahmed Hoosen Deedat
  • Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam by Gilles Kepel
  • The War for Muslim Minds by Gilles Kepel
  • J. Tolan, Saracens; Islam in the Medieval European Imagination (2002)
  • Esposito, John L. (1995). The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0-19-510298-3.
  • Halliday, Fred (2003). Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics of the Middle East. I.B. Tauris, New York. ISBN 1-86064-868-1.
  • Esposito, John L. (2003). Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0-19-516886-0.
  • Geisler, Norman L. (2002). Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross. Baker Books. ISBN 0-8010-6430-9.
  • Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim (1995)
  • —, Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out
  • The Institute for the Study of Civil Society report - The ‘West’, Islam and Islamism
  • Zwemer Islam, a Challenge to Faith (New York, 1907)
  • Shoja-e-din Shafa, Rebirth (1995) (Persian Title: تولدى ديگر)
  • Shoja-e-din Shafa, After 1400 Years (2000) (Persian Title: پس از 1400 سال)

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