To Westerners and moderate Muslims shocked by the radical form of Islam now topping nightly newscasts, the efforts of liberal-minded Muslims like Tawfik Hamid, Italian Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi and a handful of others may seem like the perfect solution. Not so for Ali Sina, who has a different suggestion: destroy Islam.
Sina, who runs Faith Freedom International - an Internet forum dedicated to debunking Islam - calls himself "probably the biggest anti-Islam person alive." The publication of his latest book, Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography of Allah's Prophet, will likely cement that position. In it, Sina suggests that Islam's central figure suffered from a series of mental disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder, temporal lobe epilepsy and obsessive compulsive disorder.
"These disorders," he says via telephone, "can explain the phenomenon known as Islam... which is nothing but one man's insanity."
Sina grew up a non-practicing Muslim. Raised in Iran, educated in Pakistan and Italy and now living in Canada, he began jousting with believers in the 1990s. What bothered him, he tells The Jerusalem Post, was not the penchant for jihad and intolerance that certain fanatical Muslims displayed, but the foundation for such ills in the Koran and core Islamic texts.
(Through the Faith Freedom Web site, Sina lists canonical references to Muhammad's actions and offers $50,000 to anyone who can disprove Sina's charge that Islam's prophet was "a narcissist, a misogynist, a rapist, a pedophile, a lecher, a torturer, a mass murderer, a cult leader, an assassin, a terrorist, a mad man and a looter." Respondents relentlessly attack Sina's motives, but none has won the prize.)
With violent conquest and contempt for non-believers central to the tenets of the faith, Sina argues, attempts to forge a moderate form of Islam are doomed.
"The idea that Islam can be reformed is a fallacy," he scoffs. "It's like saying we can reform Nazism and it will be a wonderful party."
No, says Sina, "The only way to reform Islam is to throw away the Koran; 90 percent of it should be thrown away. You also have to throw away the history of Islam, and you have to completely disregard the Sira" - the Arabic term used for the various traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad, from which most historical information about his life and the early period of Islam is derived.
For this reason, Sina says, Western suggestions that extremism in Islam can be eradicated if certain imams are quieted, or if Muslims are encouraged to embrace the universalist elements of their faith - but without addressing the extremism inherent in the religion's texts - are based on a mistaken comparison of Islam to Christianity.
"In the West, people ask whether Islam can undergo a reformation like the one that Christianity underwent. That's a poor parallel," he says. "In Christianity, it wasn't the religion that needed to be reformed, but the church; what Jesus preached was good."
On the other hand, Sina continues, "In Islam, it's not the community that is bad, but the religion. Islam has nothing like 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' Islam is full of hatred, and the hatred is in Muhammad himself. I argue in my book that Muhammad was insane - and that Muslims, by emulating him and by emulating his ways, his insanity is bequeathed to them."
BY NOW, CRITICS of Islam are fairly common in the West. And there are more than a few former Muslims who have rejected Islam in favor of Christianity, citing the difference between their former religion's overwhelming focus on hatred and their newfound faith's central teaching of love and forgiveness. But, like Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the handful of other apostate Muslims demanding that Muslims reject the negative aspects of their religion, Sina's critiques are especially problematic.
"People have to dismiss me some way, they have to put me down in one way or another. I'm a Jew, I'm a Christian, I'm a Hindu. I'm whatever people want to say in order to discredit me," says Sina, who closely guards his true identity because of the death threats he receives. "But they can't ignore my questions."
Sina has little patience for those who believe they can temper Islam with reason and mutual respect, or for those who remain cowed by the masses of Muslim devotees around the world.
"Islam is the biggest hoax, the biggest lie," he says. "Yes, a billion people believe it. But truth is truth. People will eventually see it. Believe me, there is no other answer. We will pay a great price until we realize that this is the solution - to undermine Islam itself, to show Muslims that this religion is not from God, that Muhammad was a charlatan and a liar."
Sina knows that his blunt, outspoken approach can be "problematic." But he is confident nonetheless that the force of his arguments will ultimately prevail.
"I am sure that, with time, I will convince millions and millions of Muslims, and the foundations of Islam will collapse," he says.
Already, he continues, Faith Freedom has attracted an impressive amount of attention.
"In Iran, my site is banned. In many parts of Pakistan, it is banned. The list goes on," he says. "Despite this, I have over 10 million readers in just over two and a half years. And I have received letters from Muslims from all over the world. Muslims everywhere are paying attention. I believe that Muslims everywhere are realizing that something is amiss.
"If I didn't have so much success in convincing people, then I would not be so confident. But I see that truth works. So many people who are now writing for me and putting things up on Youtube; seven or eight years ago, we were having fierce debates. Now, they are my greatest allies. There are many people who have seen the light after reading FFI and many of them are now working on my side, trying to help others to see the truth.
"This is the way to fight evil. I do not want to kill the enemy. I want to win them as friends and allies. That is the real victory. In this way, we win because we eliminate our enemy, and our enemy wins by eliminating his ignorance and hate. That is why I believe in my cause. That is why I think I am an instrument of peace."
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