The legendary Ibn Warraq is my dear friend. I decided to review his new and very excellent book Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate’s Defense of Liberal Democracy and to interview him here as well.
But let’s be clear from the outset. I am reviewing his book not because he is my friend. Rather, he is my friend because he writes great and important books. He is someone with whom I can share serious and witty conversations; he may very well be the best-read man I know. His familiarity with a vast array of fields is truly astounding and a great consolation (at least to me) in our world of apps and pads and short attention spans. He is supremely knowledgeable about philosophy, Islamic and Western art, music, theater, architecture, and literature, both sacred and secular.
I view Ibn Warraq as the intellectual leader of the global anti-Islamist/anti-jihadic dissident movement. He knows and supports everyone doing anti-jihad work.
As his friend, I know Ibn Warraq as a shy and rather humble man; occasionally mournful, touchingly private. He can, miraculously, be an Indian, a Frenchman, an Englishman, and a quintessential American, at any hour of the day. He inhabits all these identities. He commands many centuries of knowledge. Whatever language he may be speaking, whatever country he may be in, Ibn Warraq is mainly at home in the world of ideas. He dresses indifferently, not foppishly. He often wears a hat the way men of my father’s generation did. If you don’t stop him, he will absent-mindedly wander over to any nearby bookshelf or bookstall and immediately begin reading.
Now, on to the review, or rather, to the homage due this scholar-warrior.