Pros: Lots of great information! Examines both religious doctrine (scriptures) AND cultures.
Cons: Too many personal testimonies - Patience needed to read it all!
If youre reading this book, then chances are you either left Islam or are doing some sort of research on Muslims/Islam. Personally, I belong to the first of the two.
Before I write my review of this book, Id like to set the stage so that readers know what to expect. Theres an old saying Every story has two sides to it. Well this book (story) has three sides to it.
1) If youre a true Muslim follower you will probably look at this book as propaganda and a chance for non-believers to spread hatred for Islam, and that those who believe what is written in this book are uneducated on Islam and/or deserve to die.
2) If you belong to any other religion, you will probably use the contents of this book to reinforce that Islam is not the true religion, and somehow thereby validate the authenticity of your own religion.
3) Ironically, just by looking at the title of this book Leaving Islam : Apostates Speak Out, one can plainly see that this book is not about which religion is the true religion, rather, its about leaving religion completely and adopting the agnostic approach to life.
Being a former Muslim, I have certain knowledge on Islam that I take for granted. When the author wrote this book, he too made the same mistake. In many parts of the book, he uses terms which only Muslims (or people who have studied Islam) will understand. He does make a genuine effort to define most of the terms, however the uneducated reader (uneducated in Islam) who wishes to soak in this material will need plenty of patience while reading this book. Chances are, you will have to look up some material on the internet (definitions, etc.)
What I particularly appreciated about this book was the fact that the author, Ibn Warraq, delves not only into the religion of Islam but he also explores an equally important aspect of Islam The culture of Islam. While religious doctrine and culture are somewhat similar, I think its very important for the reader to be able to differentiate between the two. Ibn Warraq makes a noticeable attempt to point out the difference of written scriptures in the Quran and the practices of Muslims.
Chapters 1-9 offers eye opening facts and tid-bits of Islam at a nice pace which everybody can absorb. But I have to warn you ; chapters 10 through the end of the book consist of personal testimonies submitted by individuals who have left Islam. Trust me, it will get boring at some point. From chapter 10 onwards you will notice an anti-Islamic feeling to the tone of the book. But keep in mind, these are personal testimonies. And while I did have to push myself through the same repetitive message I did learn more about Islam as I went on because each personal testimony makes his/her own reference to religious doctrine/culture.
Overall Id say this is a great book to read. You just have to be patient and open minded to appreciate it.