The first part of the book presents an overview of the theological-juridical underpinnings of apostasy in Islam based upon the Qur’an, the hadiths and written opinions from classical schools of Islamic jurisprudence as well as contemporary written pronouncements of Islamic jurists.
The next section presents the history of the application of Islamic jurisdiction on apostates documenting notable cases from the early centuries of Islam, such as those of freethinkers Ibn al-Rawandi and Ar-Razi (865-925), or skeptical poets such as Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) and Hafiz (1320–89), or Sufi (mystic) practitioners including Mansur Al-Hallaj, executed in 922 and As-Suhrawardi executed in 1191, and the atheist Sulayman al-Ma'arri (973-1057).
This followed by numerous case studies covering modern day apostasies and conversions out of Islam trends throughout the world.
In a 2003 interview with The Religion Report on Australia's ABC Radio National, Warraq said he wrote Leaving Islam to support his claim that there were a large number of ex-Muslims and to encourage other Muslims to openly leave Islam. He also said his target audience with the book was not just Muslims but everyone.
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- Stephen Crittenden & Ibn Warraq (2003-07-02). "Radio National Interview with Ibn Warraq" (Transcript). The Religion Report. Australia: ABC Radio National. "I wanted to point out that there were a large number of ex-Muslims, and I wanted to hold them up as examples to ex-Muslims to come out of the closet. ... [Leaving Islam is] meant for everyone"