When it comes to religion, there are plenty of people trying to tell us what to think. That isn’t a huge problem, say, here in the U.S. with regards to Catholicism or mainstream Protestant Christianity. Those religions are everywhere, ready to be observed by people with a skeptical eye.
It becomes more of a problem when circumstances separate us somewhat from the practitioners (and former practitioners) of a religion. Didn’t grow up near a Mormon or Jewish population center? Then you’re somewhat dependent on cultural depictions or advocacy organizations, people with an agenda, whether it’s to make a religion look bad or good.
This is particularly problematic for Islam. The U.S. has been using Islam as a political scapegoat for decades. Racist, anti-immigrant forces have highlighted the most dangerous parts of Islam and treated it as the whole. Those fighting the real problems of Islam usually have little interest in talking about its more benign cultural practices. Few people have stood up for Islam, or Muslims apart from their religion, leaving its defense to Muslims themselves, who are highly invested in painting Islam in the best possible terms.
This is the situation Heina Dadabhoy hopes to rectify with her “A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam” Kickstarter project.
I was an American Muslim born-and-raised believer until I left the religion for philosophical, rather than political, reasons. In other words, while I know that not all Muslims are terrorists, I don’t believe that none of them are, either.
The book will mostly cover what non-Muslims who lack an Islamic background need to know about Islam and Muslims from a non-pandering perspective, along with a glossary of terms that aren’t easily Google-able and an annotated bibliography for further informed study.
All funds will cover access to research materials (both online databases and any book purchases I might end up needing to make); proper cover art and graphic design for the digital and print versions; editing, creating and maintaining a website for the book; conference costs to promote the book to skeptics and atheists all over the country and the world; and, of course, writing time. I also currently have free access to lots of obscure Islamic books that only Muslims would bother to buy; quite soon, that access will become limited.
The project is almost half funded, just as it hit its halfway point. Unless its fully funded by August 24, it won’t happen. If this is something you’d like to see, consider supporting the project today.