Derya Little has a disarming smile and a slight glow. It is very difficult to dislike her and few people seem to try. Perhaps, therefore, she is ideally placed to take on one of the most perilous and unfashionable topics in modern religious and political discourse: why Islam isn’t true.
Derya is a former Muslim, a convert to Catholicism and the author of a new book, From Islam to Christ. She spoke to me this summer about her journey.
Derya is Turkish. She was baptised in Ankara but was received into the Catholic Church in England and now lives in America. Her westward path is not, as it happens, a matter of personal security but purely coincidental. That being said, her homeland has become far more Islamic than it was when she left it. As she explains in her book, the secular Turkish republic founded after World War I wanted its people to be Muslim but not too Muslim. At the time this provided a safer context for conversion than that faced by many Middle Eastern catechumens.
She was born in the 1980s. It was after reading the Koran and the hadiths (canonical traditions concerning Mohammed) that she rejected the religion of her country and family. “After having read these accounts with fresh eyes,” she says, “I was appalled at how so many people, including myself, could blindly follow this man.”
Her initial response to this experience was to turn not to Christianity but atheism. Although she came from a town evangelised by St Paul himself, for her, Christianity felt alien and the very idea of it scarcely crossed her mind.
As a teenager she assumed that atheism led to Marxism. This is not a popular assumption among the so-called New Atheists, who are keen to distance themselves from communism and the millions of corpses it piled up in the 20th century. Derya explains that the claim of Marxist regimes to represent “scientific atheism” – simply the logical extrapolation and application of the denial of God – should be taken more seriously.
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