This is a bit of a long post, I realize, but it is a very important post. If you want to skip the pontificating in the middle, feel free to do so. The last four paragraphs are the most important.
Isaac Schrödinger is someone we all should know about and whose blog we should all follow. I do. (He’s a very enjoyable blogger, as well as being enlightening.) He is part of a very, very special group: people who were born Muslim, grew up in Muslim environments, apostatized, and then informs us – the world – of what he knows about the Muslim world.
There are plenty of Muslims who critique Islam – most are not outspoken about it – but even they cannot go all the way and critique it to its very roots, as that would endanger the entire edifice, and if it falls they will be crushed within it. It’s a natural defense mechanism. So although we ought to listen to those Muslims who critique Islam, we are forced to ask ourselves whether they are intentionally or not leaving anything out.
But people like Isaac Schrödinger are different: because they have left the edifice whose construction and even foundations they seek to examine, they have no reason to spare their observations. They call it, as they say, as they see it. They give us the full picture.
To continue the analogy of a building, an outside expert (who was never a Muslim) can go inside and describe what he or she sees: the furnishings, the wallpaper, the floor, the doors, and so on. But only an insider can tell what the building’s inhabitants feel and think about the same. It’s one thing to say “the Qur’an is the sacred book of Islam,” but it’s quite another to relate the precise mentality and emotions and traditions of the people towards and regarding the Qur’an.
And so I am so very grateful for people like Isaac Schrödinger, especially since being so outspoken is not easy nor safe to begin with, but on top of that being an apostate can endanger one’s life.
Apostasy is punishable by execution in Islam. Practically every school of religious jurisprudence agrees with this rule. Not all states enforce this ruling as it is: some do so with actions less than execution that are nonetheless harsh. For example, apostates might be confined in a psychiatric facility. Or they may be jailed. Or they may be charged with blasphemy and punished accordingly. (Recall for a second that torture in non-Western prisons is the norm.) Or – and this is a more significant danger than what the state may do – they may permit a mob to take the law in their hands. In Pakistan, many people have died at the hands of mobs, and the state has taken no action whatsoever to bring to justice the criminals who led the violent group. Even if it wanted to, it would not be able to: no one would cooperate with the authorities in their investigation. What is sickening, of course, is that there is no escape, regardless whether one is guilty or not: the mob will kill whomever it thinks deserves to be executed in the name of Islam.
And this is where the main point of my post comes in. I would never ask anything from my readers for me. That you read and follow my insane rantings for me is reward enough. But I do make a request for someone I admire.
Isaac Schrödinger is now in Canada. However, he has been on a student visa and has applied for asylum. If his application is rejected – Heaven forfend! – he will have to return to Pakistan, where his fate will be utterly unknown. What I have said above – confinement in a psychiatric facility, charged with blasphemy, time and torture in jail, actions by the state, lethal actions by a mob – these events that to us may seem far away and remote will become a very real possibility for him. There are so few insightful critics of Islam that are like him that losing him will be a major, major blow for all of us – and this applies to even his online silence. It is obvious that if he returns to Pakistan, he will no longer be able to inform us through his blog.
Isaac Schrödinger is special in another way: he has spent a lot of time in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Thus, he can give us the perspective of a number of societies and peoples – Pakistanis in Pakistan, Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, Saudis in Saudi Arabia, other Arabs and peoples.
Isaac Schrödinger has a blog and a link to a PayPal account thereon, and I most sincerely and wholeheartedly encourage you to donate what you can and to send him messages of support. If you have any information that may be able to help him, please feel free to email him. To give an indication of the cost, he will need $2,500.00 Canadian Dollars before the court date:,he has received $1,493.00 Canadian Dollars so far. (For an update on where his case stands so far, check out this post; you may read his posts on his case in this category on his blog.)
I obviously will not be able to tell who donated what or who e-mailed what – but to everyone who may support him in whatever way he or she can, I thank you. I thank you from my heart. To me, this is a personal cause, not just ideological or political. As a fellow apostate, I feel his fears quite acutely. I was fortunate enough to have been born in The United States, and so I have a refuge here. Not so with Isaac Schrödinger. Let us help a strong ally of The West remain in The West so he can help us win, help us understand other peoples, and help us promote the cause of freedom, rights, liberty, and free conscience. No one should have to feel one’s life endangered because of one’s thoughts and beliefs – but not all are so fortunate. So let us be thankful for what liberty we have and express our thanks through actions. I have donated, and I support him. Please help me in furthering his very just cause.
I would like to wish my Jewish readers and commenters – and all Jews everywhere – a very happy and sweet new year. Shanah Tovah! IY”H may you inscribed for a good, healthy, and sweet new year. Amein.