Reflections on my interview with Hamed Abdel-Samad
Hamed Abdel-Samad is an Egyptian Exmuslim. He is fluent in Arabic (his mother tongue) and French, English and German.
These are my reflections I have after reading one of his books and interviewing him.
Most of the excuses used to dismiss exmuslims don’t work on him. He speaks Arabic. He grew up in a Muslim country. He memorized the Quran, the holy book of Islam in its entirety. He is also the son of an imam. He was even a part of the Muslim Brotherhood (an Islamist group i.e. wants to reestablish Islam politically). He knows the religion very well and these ad hominems don’t work on him.
Hamed was an outstanding guest. He spoke eloquently even though this is his third or fourth language.
What stood out to me was his humility. Hamed doesn’t brag about the dangers he is in or use them to score points with the audience. He only brought them up because I asked him about them after someone mentioned to me he was under police protection for credible threats to his life. Unlike a certain other popular Imam online who milked a dubious potentially forged ‘fatwa’ made calling for his death for all it was worth to sell more copies of his book, Hamed doesn’t complain. He doesn’t complain about the fact that he has to hide where he lives, that he has to wear a bulletproof vest when doing speeches, and that he has 4 or 5 police officers or bodyguards to protect him when he goes out. That’s no way to have to live your life. When you ask him if he has any regret, he says no, with a smile on his face. That he is free. He is free to say what he wants and free of the confines of religion. He is a genuine man who stands up for what he believes, who puts his money where his mouth is.
You would think after the fatwas calling for his death from Egyptian sheikhs and the jihadis who want him dead that he would be sour or angry. That he would speak like Mufassil Islam used to, using vile and foul language to describe the prophet and symbols of Islam. But he does no such thing. He is polite but to the point. But he doesn’t mince words.
Hamed made us laugh and smile with his story of how he was dreaming of an Egyptian actress and was woken up to pray fajr in the morning. He shared how he bantered with his father about the religion and how certain things just didn’t sit well with him from the very beginning.
I am partially through reading Hamed’s book “Islamic Facism”, which has been translated into 13 languages. The book was fantastic. It was easy to consume and written very well. He had several gems in his book I found fascinating.
“Islamism and fascism alike emerged from feelings of abject subjugation, united by empire-building goals with world domination, a manifest virtue, and their enemies’ annihilation a prerequisite. One movement believes in Aryan racial supremacy, the other in Muslim moral supremacy over the vast, unbelieving bulk of humanity.” (Islamic Fascism by Hamed Abdel-Samad)
The psychological basis of fascism:
“Fascism, Eco writes, feeds on people’s obsessive belief that “others” have drawn plans against them, a persecution complex accompanied by a fixed sense of having been humiliatingly shortchanged and a subsequent thirst for retribution… To outline a further parallel, fascism and Islamism alike are maladies of “belated nations,” societies fondly recalling glorious histories while in a process of decay.” (Islamic Fascism by Hamed Abdel-Samad)
It also surprised me how closely Islamist movements like Maududi’s Jamat-e-Islami and Hassan al-Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood were inspired by and copied from fascist and Nazi thought. Despite being a former Muslim, I did not realize just how dangerous these movements are. How they will use any means to achieve their goal of world domination.
Hamed said that the fascism didn’t start in the 19th century but started with Muhammad in the 7th:
“As well as subjecting his opponents to fear and terror, Muhammad’s violence sowed seeds of intolerance at the heart of Islam — seeds that would take root and that bear rotten fruit today.” (Islamic Fascism by Hamed Abdel-Samad)
When I asked Hamed for his advice for those leaving the religion, he said don’t spend all your time focusing on Islam. Make sure you spend time on other things too and don’t hate the religion. What is motivated by hate eventually fizzles out. Live a balanced life. He is working on a new series called “Box of man” (sunduq al Insan) which will cover more than just Islam such as historical and social topics. He is planning to have me on the show and I look forward to it!
If you’d like to watch the full interview, I would encourage you to check it out. Hamed is a gem to the exmuslim community. It was definitely the most interesting one I’ve done so far, bar none.