I have been a follower of Ali A. Rizvi’s Twitter account for a few years now, so when I found out he was writing a book, I just had to read it.
At the time of reading, Ahok is being tried for blasphemy case, and I’ve reached that point where I’m sick of the sense of entitlement some people have when it comes to their religion, tired of constantly having to hold back my tongue in order not to offend their inflated ego, and have heard enough of the infallibility status of some holy book. So reading this book–which provides bold and honest views from an ex-Muslim–really gave me a breath of fresh air.
Rizvi had a Muslim upbringing where being a Muslim does not only indicate your faith but also your identity; this is why I find his experience relatable. I, too, grew up in a somewhat liberal Muslim society that cherry-picked the teachings. Here is what he says on the inerracy of holy scriptures:
You know that you would never go to such an extent to justify the same ideas—expressed the same way—if I had written them in my book. You would’ve read them as they were and held me accountable for my words, instead of looking for “context,” a “correct interpretation,” or something else to make it sound better than it does.
You know, deep down, that it’s becoming increasingly difficult and exhausting to keep telling others—and maybe even yourself—how your progressive, reasoned values are somehow completely compatible with those words written 1300 years ago.
The chapter Islamophobia-phobia and the “Regressive Left” gave an analysis on Charlie Hebdo and Islamist attacks:
Again, it’s crucial to emphasize the difference between criticism of Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry. The first targets an ideology. The second targets human beings. This is an obvious, significant distinction, yet both are frequently lumped together under the unfortunate, reductive umbrella term “Islamophobia.” Again, human beings have rights and are entitled to respect. Ideas, beliefs, and books don’t and aren’t.
On letting go of faith:
The price of letting go can be immensely high. Giving up the security of faith and the idea of an ultimate justice is just one of many costs that an increasing number of Muslims around the world have to pay as they give up the religion of their parents. Recognizing this should help us better understand and empathize with those who are unwilling or unable to leave the comfort of their faith.
But it should also help us better appreciate the courage of those who have dared to give it up and construct a new compass for their lives.
Anyway. I sent a tweet to Rizvi to tell him how much I like his book. He was so nice and even replied my tweet!
I don’t see how this book can be translated to Indonesian anytime soon, at least not by a major publisher. But if some daring publisher wants to do it, I’d definitely buy a copy. It’d go well beside my Dawkins’ books.