I had the good fortune to join Ibn Warraq at his book signing at the Columbia book store this evening. The crowd was too small for such a great mind. Warraq is meticulous and studied. The basis for his arguments and its logical conclusions are rooted in historical fact. Warraq's exhaustive body of work should be part of every public school curriculum. . Go here and check out all of his books.
(Videos in the extended post, click bottom link)
It was not lost on me that one of the few in attendence was the crazy, violent "rabbi" Feinberg, he is the first questioner in the video above - I think he says he studied with Said, (check out crazy "rabbi's" previous video act and more here, and his support for hamas support here). The crazy, belligerent rabbi is at every pro CAIR rally, pro Pali Arab rally, Pro public school madrassa rally and here? At Warraq's book signing? Think about it.
Celebrated Muslim apostate and Koranic scholar Ibn Warraq discussed his new book, Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism at the Columbia University Bookstore.
As Martin Kramer has pointed out, Said admitted in the afterword of the 1994 edition of Orientalism that "I have no interest in, much less capacity for, showing what the true Orient and Islam really are." In other words, Said was not interested in advancing scholarship, but only anti-Western polemical screeds, being mostly content with hurling vitriolic and malicious invective against past and present Orientalists, such as Silvestre de Sacy and Bernard Lewis.
Ibn Warraq's dissection of Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient is a masterfully written, albeit long catalogue of Said's errors and misconceptions. Indeed, one of the most absurd charges made by Said was one levelled against Bernard Lewis. In an essay, Lewis had discussed the etymological root of the classical Arabic term thawra [revolution] as follows:
The root th-w-r ? in Classical Arabic meant to rise up (e.g. of a camel) , to be stirred or excited, and hence, especially in Maghribi usage, to rebel. It is often used in the context of establishing a petty, independent sovereignty; thus, for example, the so-called party kings who ruled in eleventh century Spain after the break-up of the Caliphate of Cordova are called thuwwar ( sing. thair ).�
A culture [i.e., Western] that gave the world the novel; the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; and the paintings of Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Rembrandt does not need lessons from societies whose idea of heaven, peopled with female virgins, resembles a cosmic brothel. Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine; societies that deny the rights of supposedly lower castes; societies that execute homosexuals and apostates. The West has no use for sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems, that make no provisions for the handicapped, and that leave 40 to 50 percent of their citizens illiterate.
Read the rest of Ibn Warraq’s essential new book, Defending the West—A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism, Caroline Fourest’s book (“Brother Tariq”) exposing Taqiyya Ramadan’s Doublespeak, and the rest of Warraq’s evisceration of Taqiyyya Ramadan, in City Journal, below:
My response to Tariq Ramadan
Winter 2008 Last October, I participated in a debate in London, hosted by Intelligence Squared, to consider the motion, “We should not be reluctant to assert the superiority of Western values.” Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan, among others, spoke against the motion; I spoke in favor, focusing on the vast disparities in freedom, human rights, and tolerance between Western and Islamic societies. Here, condensed somewhat, is the case that I made.
The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy—are superior to any others devised by humankind. It was the West that took steps to abolish slavery; the calls for abolition did not resonate even in Africa, where rival tribes sold black prisoners into slavery.
The West has secured freedoms for women and racial and other minorities to an extent unimaginable 60 years ago. The West recognizes and defends the rights of the individual: we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live lives of our choosing.
In short, the glory of the West, as philosopher Roger Scruton puts it, is that life here is an open book. Under Islam, the book is closed. In many non-Western countries, especially Islamic ones, citizens are not free to read what they wish.
In Saudi Arabia, Muslims are not free to convert to Christianity, and Christians are not free to practice their faith—clear violations of Article 18 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In contrast with the mind-numbing enforced certainties and rules of Islam, Western civilization offers what Bertrand Russell once called “liberating doubt,” which encourages the methodological principle of scientific skepticism.
Western politics, like science, proceeds through tentative steps of trial and error, open discussion, criticism, and self-correction. One could characterize the difference between the West and the Rest as a difference in epistemological principles.
The desire for knowledge, no matter where it leads, inherited from the Greeks, has led to an institution unequaled—or very rarely equaled—outside the West: the university. Along with research institutes and libraries, universities are, at least ideally, independent academies that enshrine these epistemological norms, where we can pursue truth in a spirit of disinterested inquiry, free from political pressures. In other words, behind the success of modern Western societies, with their science and technology and open institutions, lies a distinct way of looking at the world, interpreting it, and recognizing and rectifying problems.
The edifice of modern science and scientific method is one of Western man’s greatest gifts to the world. The West has given us not only nearly every scientific discovery of the last 500 years—from electricity to computers—but also, thanks to its humanitarian impulses, the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. The West provides the bulk of aid to beleaguered Darfur; Islamic countries are conspicuous by their lack of assistance.
Moreover, other parts of the world recognize Western superiority. When other societies such as South Korea and Japan have adopted Western political principles, their citizens have flourished. It is to the West, not to Saudi Arabia or Iran, that millions of refugees from theocratic or other totalitarian regimes flee, seeking tolerance and political freedom.
Nor would any Western politician be able to get away with the anti-Semitic remarks that former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad made in 2003. Our excusing Mahathir’s diatribe indicates not only a double standard but also a tacit acknowledgment that we apply higher ethical standards to Western leaders.
A culture that gave the world the novel; the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; and the paintings of Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Rembrandt does not need lessons from societies whose idea of heaven, peopled with female virgins, resembles a cosmic brothel. Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine; societies that deny the rights of supposedly lower castes; societies that execute homosexuals and apostates. The West has no use for sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems, that make no provisions for the handicapped, and that leave 40 to 50 percent of their citizens illiterate. As Ayatollah Khomeini once famously said, there are no jokes in Islam.
The West is able to look at its foibles and laugh, to make fun of its fundamental principles: but there is no equivalent as yet to Monty Python’s Life of Brian in Islam. Can we look forward, someday, to a Life of Mo? Probably not—one more small sign that Western values remain the best, and perhaps the only, means for all people, no matter of what race or creed, to reach their full potential and live in freedom.
Since 1998, Ibn Warraq has edited several books of Koranic criticism and on the origins of Islam, including Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out,, Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism, and Which Koran? (forthcoming).
Buy Warraq's book here: Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism
Edward Said's Orientalism gave those unable to think for themselves a formula. His work had the attraction of an all-purpose tool which his acolytes, eager, intellectually unprepared, aesthetically unsophisticated, could apply to every cultural phenomenon without having to think critically or without having to conduct any real archival research requiring mastery of languages, or research in the field requiring the mastery of technique and a rigorous methodology. Said's Orientalism displays all the laziness and arrogance of the man of letters who does not have much time for empirical research or, above all, for making sense of its results FP: What do you hope your work will help achieve?
Warraq: Let me answer that by an example. Even before my book was actually published there was a description of it and a photo of the cover on Amazon.com. An art historian wrote to me that the description alone gave him confidence to defend certain works of 18th Century French paintings that had hitherto been dismissed as “orientalist” in Said’s pejorative sense. I hope curators in art museums will now dust off paintings left to moulder in damp basements because they had been dubbed “orientalist”.
I also hope that the humanities departments in Western universities will get back their confidence and teach the Western canon in an unabashed manner- from Herodotus and Aeschylus to George Eliot and Jane Austen. That the real Orientalists-such as Sir William Jones, Ignaz Goldziher, and many others I discuss in my book- will get their due recognition as great scholars who devoted their lives to recovering humankind’s manifold creations, to uncovering the history of our past. That the universities will go back to their traditional task of scholarship untainted by political correctness, to the never-ending labour of striving for the objective truth.
Read the whole thing: Defending the West
UPDATE: From Jason in the audience,
I happened to be sitting behind the guy who I later found out frorm your website was the crazy "rabbi." We had an interesting interaction--he was sniping at Warraq the whole time, whispering snarky comments to his friend. Finally I whispered to him, "Rather than sniping at him, why don't you ask another question and actually engage him?" The crazy rabbi then snapped at me, whining "I can snipe at anyone I want!" Afterward, I told my friend about this wacko, and only later that night found out who he was!
CLICK BELOW FOR ALL VIDEO
Excerpts and Q & Z
First thirty minutes of Warraq's remarks